The Instigator
onarchy
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Sieben
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Lockean property rights

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Sieben
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/23/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,277 times Debate No: 13452
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (24)
Votes (1)

 

onarchy

Pro

In this debate I will argue for the existence of objective, reality based (natural) property rights based on work/production. This is also known as the Lockean theory of property, after John Locke who first formulated it more than 300 years ago. I will divide ownership into two sub-concepts: attribution and control. In the first section I will show that attribution stems from life itself as a biological process, and in the second section I will argue that for humans in particular ownership also implies the right to control that which can be attributed to you.

Claim one, attribution: "I built this house, therefore it is MY creation."
Claim two, control: "It is MY house, therefore I have a souvereign right to control it so long as I am peaceful and respect others."

(1) Attribution ownership through work

Definition: An object is a thing which maintains its cohesion over time. It has well-defioned identity and it remains that way over time. A rock is a typical object.

Definition: A process is a collection of objects that continuously expend energy and constituent objects. Thus, it does not have a well-defined identity in the same way as objects. Clouds and rivers are processes, and not objects.

Life itself too is a process: every 7 years every single atom in our bodies is replaced with new ones. We are constantly expending energy and changing our constituents.

Yet somehow it seems that life behaves like an object too: it has ha well-defined boundary (the cell wall in cells, the skin in multicellular organisms) and it maintains its identity that defines it over time.

This curious nature of life as semi-object is due to the fact that the processes that make up a living being are of such a nature that they continuously produce and regenerate the structure of the organism that is needed to produce the organism. Its identity is a self-producing, self-defining, self-sustaining process. Thus, a living being is defined by its self-production. Work is needed to define an organism as itself. They exist only because they are self-creating.

Hence, attribution of existents result from the biological process of production. Everything of a biological nature that exists is entirely due to work. Hence a dog exists because the dog produces itself. Hence we can attribute the existence of that dog to itself. In general this gives rise to the concept of self-ownership. Organisms own themselves because they are self-producing. (And by "own" in this sense I mean that you cannot attribute the dog as part of an elephant, because the elephant did not produce the dog. Attribution in this sense means "credit." The dog can take credit for its own existence because it created itself.)

(2) control ownership through work in humans

Definition: sociality = peaceful coexistence. The defining feature of social animals (ants, bees, elephants, humans) is that they live peacefully together. They respect each others' boundaries -- boundaries that, as we have seen, are self-produced by the individual. It is thus the individual through work that defines the boundaries of its existence.

Definition: peace = non-violence = to respect another beings right to control his own life.

Each species has their own unique way of living according to their natures. Often this involves violence towards other beings. It is the leopard's nature to be violent towards antelope and eat them. Thus, the relationship between leopards and antelopes is not social. This is the defining feature of leopards and if they did not behave this way then they would cease to exist.

Some animals, however, are (largely) social towards their own kind. (in some cases interspecies relationships can be social too) These are typically very productive individuals. Ants for instance are renowned for their ability to perform heavy duty work and produce impressive nests. Cows are walking factories that are able to transform cellulose in their many stomachs into edible calories. As highly productive beings they do not need to be violent towards each other in order to thrive. Therefore they have through natural selection acquired a peaceful nature. They live in peace together and participate in mutual protection from external dangers. They do this because it is in their mutual self-interest to do so, and this furthers their existence. Thus, it is a defining feature of their biology that they are productive and peaceful towards other productive members of the flock.

We humans are also a social species. In fact, we are the most social species on earth because we are so productive. Due to our superior intelligence and ability to abstract and reason we have been able to extend our bodies to also include things that are not metabolically part of our bodies. We produce tools, clothes, houses, space rockets and skyscrapers. These are attributable to the individual creators and since we are by nature a social species we respect those attributions. Thus, if I made a house (or bought it with money that I worked for) it is MY house and it is therefore left in peace by the other social members of humanity. I can do with it whatever I want so long as I am peaceful towards others.

To summarize, my argument is therefore as follows:

- Living beings obtain their existence through work. Therefore work is the key to attribution of existence. ("I built that house, so it's MY creation.")

- Some species are social and therefore by nature respect the attributes of their species/tribe members. They live peacefully together.

- We humans are such a social, rational species, and it is therefore in our nature to respect the products of the other members of society, including their property. Respect in this sense means allowing them to live in peace and do with their own property as they like so long as they use it in a mutually peaceful manner.

This is the biological basis for objective property rights based on labor (Lockean property rights).
Sieben

Con

Overview

The Pro and I have a lot in common on the surface. We are both classically liberal, believe in self ownership and property rights, etc. We disagree on methodology and reasoning behind these axioms. The debate should be judged based on who can provide the best reasons for their positions, not the positions themselves (since they're basically identical).

====PRO CASE====

(1) Attribution ownership through work

A) Insufficient definition of Life

Pro defines a living being as something that is self producing. However, many abiotic things are "self producing", such as contained nuclear reactions [1]. A natural, non man-made example is the sun [2]. Since the sun is not alive, we should disregard pro's definition of life.

B) Infinite Regression of Self Creation

I would argue that no man created himself, but was created by another man, who in turn was created by another man, etc. Therefore, under Pro's logic, no man existing today owns himself because no one was the agent of their own creation.

C) Performative Contradiction of Self Creation

If I create myself, then I exist. But by definition, I do not exist before I am created. Therefore, I cannot create myself, and, according to Pro, this means I cannot own myself.

D) Self Creation is Irrelevant

We can imagine life forms that do not reassemble themselves. They either do not decay, or simply die without repairing themselves in any way. From hypothesis, rights should apply to living beings, but according to Pro, they do not even own themselves because no work is required to sustain their being.

(2) Control Ownership Through Work in Humans

A) Rights are Anti-Social

The point of having a theory of rights is to guide dispute resolution. State Communists do not become Neo-Lockean Capitalists while playing Monopoly. If a privilege is granted unanimously and voluntarily, it does not become a natural right. In fact, rights explicitly guide when you can use violence. In this respect, they are anti-social.

B) Argument from Biological Happenstance

Pro thinks that because we are biologically social, we automatically respect eachother's creations.

i) True or false, this only demonstrates that human beings have a preference. It does not build the case for natural rights.

ii) Human beings are not always social. We attack each other frequently [3] [4]. Following Pro's argumentum ad populum, we would conclude that there are no rights because every conceivable right has been violated at some point in history.

iii) Anti-social humans can still have theories of mutual respect. Even if people are narrowly self interested, they can still respect each other's rights out of pragmatism and self preservation. This is how psychopaths are able to navigate society [5].

3) Mixing Labor with Nature

Pro did not explicate a theory of appropriation, only of creation. Since I cannot actually create land, this would seem to imply that I can never own it. Fair enough, but the Lockean Theory of Homesteading advances the labor theory of property [6], and I would be remiss in my duty if I did not critique it.

Simply, the theory is just a bad metaphor. In reality, we do not see little bits of "Farmer John" mixed into soil.

But even if we did? So what? The purpose of property rights is to exclude others from use. So why can I exclude you from using a resource just because I am mixed in with it? As Robert Nozick pointed out, you can do work on the whole ocean if you pour a can of soup in it, but do you come to own the whole ocean? Can you exclude everyone from its use? Of course not. So "mixing" is utterly irrelevant.

===== Con Case =====

1) Theory of Self Ownership

A theory is an argument. That is, it is intended to convince someone to agree of their own volition. Therefore, one cannot coherently argue against the consent of others. For example, if I convince you to become a slave, you will be a "voluntary slave", which is a contradiction in terms. As such, I can never coherently argue for slavery. If I try, I will only succeed in convincing you to perform voluntary labor.

This does not demonstrate that self ownership is a metaphysical underpinning of the universe, but it does show that it flows organically and necessarily from argumentation.

2) Extension of Self Ownership

Ownership can be extended only as far as the self ownership principle. Actions are an extension of the self, and as such, actions which do not conflict with other "selfs" are protected by self ownership.

For example, if I begin farming unused land, no one has a right to stop me. I have a right to stop other people from interfering with me, because they'd be attacking me for doing something peaceful. Once we view farming as an ongoing process of cultivating, harvesting, and utilizing crops, it becomes clear why others can be excluded. Someone who takes my crops is interfering with my farming, my actions.

This view of ownership makes a lot more sense, because rights are extended OVER property, rather than somehow being mixed into it.

It is also strictly non-aggressive, and unmaterialistic. Two people can use the same physical object without interfering with each other. For example, radio waves can be broadcast over and through the land I am farming without any conflict.

===Conclusion===

Pro's conception of self ownership is accidental, stemming from the happy coincidence that most organisms grow by constantly creating new cells. The Voters should prefer my derivation of self ownership because it appears naturally in argumentation. This is why it is a natural right.

Even if Pro is right about the biological justification for rights, my use-theory of ownership is entirely compatible with "human nature". It is very similar to Lockean Homesteading, except it stems rationally from self ownership. It is less arbitrary in that one cannot own land or the ocean merely by spilling some soup in it. For practical and philosophical reasons, Voters should also prefer the use-theory of ownership.

[1] http://www.osti.gov...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://www.legalnorms.com...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
onarchy

Pro

=== defence of pro case ===

(1) Attribution ownership through work

A) Insufficient definition of Life

Con claims my definition of life is insufficient because there are examples that fit the definition of life that are typically not categorized as life such as the sun and nuclear reactions. All these examples, however, fit into a broader category of phenomena which includes life, namely Dissipative Structures. [1] Although all living beings are dissipative structures, not all dissipative structures are alive. Something is missing in all other kinds of self-sustaining processes that is present in the living. This is the fact that it creates its own boundary and that it acts to maintain its cohesion through energy dissipation (i.e. work). Nuclear reactions do not fit the bill since they do not generate their own boundary. The sun has a well-defined spherical boundary, but this boundary is not self-produced through work. It is imposed on it extrinsically by gravity. As such the sun resembles the Benard Cell [2] which is organized from without. Life on the other hand is organized from within. It produces its own boundary.

B) Infinite regression

Although we are partially created by other beings through reproduction, this is just an initial process. Once started we *continuously* create ourselves. If this process stops even for a second the process of death and decay immediately starts. Therefore we may say that the organism is continuously mixing its labor with itself in the process of self-creation. It is created anew continuously.

C) Performative Contradiction of Self Creation

An organism needs to be bootstrapped, but once an organism exists it does so by creating itself. Childhood can be thought of as this initial bootstrapping period, and only when we are adults do we fully create and sustain ourselves and have full ownership of our bodies.

D) Self-creation is Irrelevant

Life that does not continuously self-produce cannot exist. A defining characteristic of all living beings is that they have two fundamental possible states: dead or alive. Living beings can be destroyed. Living beings have something to lose (their lives) and therefore have to act to survive. Existence *requires* work. If not, they are not living beings. It is this requirement of self-production that is the biological basis of *values*. Definition: a value is that which we act to gain or keep. Only living beings have values, because only living beings can die. Their primary value is their own life, which they act to gain or keep.

As a corollary of the mortality of living beings it also follows that life MUST be self-reproducing as well as self-producing. Self-reproduction in combination with self-production is the only viable strategy for long-term existence. Any living being is therefore overwhelmingly likely to be an offspring and to require continuous work to stay alive. If not they will not be living beings, but something else.

(2) Control Ownership Through Work in Humans

A) Rights are antisocial

Agreed. Rights means what you can legitimately use violence for. However, violence is not the normal conduct of humans. We are NORMALLY social, and violence (in self-defense) is the exception. It is therefore still correct to say that humans are a social species.

B) Argument from Biological Happenstance

There is nothing automatic about social behavior, but this is what is NATURAL for humans.

i) natural rights are rights that build on what is NATURAL for humans. Therefore the fact that we by NATURE are social beings does indeed build a case for natural rights.

ii) occasional anti-social behavior in social animals does occur, but it is not NORMAL. It is not what our nature dictates as natural. That some rights have been violated at some point in history is irrelevant, because natural rights is a theory about what is NORMAL and NATURAL for humans to use violence for. Hence the term "natural" rights as opposed to exceptional or artificial rights.

3) Mixing Labor with Nature

When we eat we appropriate land (atoms). They then become part of us through the toil of creating something of value to us. (our body)

Pouring soup into the ocean is not to mix one's labor with the natural state for the purpose of value creation. As discussed previously all living beings are mortal and therefore have values (that which they act to gain or keep) in order to exist and thrive. They do work because they value it. Pouring soup into the ocean does not fit the bill.

=== Con Case ===

1) theory of self-ownership

Theories and rationality do not require one to convince others of their truth. Robinson Crusoe could certainly think of correct theories and behave rationally while all alone on an island. Con is only correct if one needs to *argue* for one's theory, but in what circumstances does this occur? In rational *social* species. Which came first? Sociality or rationality? Evolution says sociality, so Cons argument assumes that peaceful coexistence is already part of our genes and nature.

2) Extension of Self-Ownership

Action alone is not sufficient to establish ownership, and it is easy to demonstrate. Suppose I build a statue, because I want to. When I have finished making the statue I have stopped acting on it. It just stands there. Why shouldn't then someone be allowed to take that statue once I'm finished with it? Another example is a cabin that I build. Once I am finished building it, it is not mine according to Con. It is only if I continue acting on it that it is mine. So I need to start using it to live in. But it's a summer cabin so I only stay there for two months a year. Why then shouldn't anyone else be allowed to use the cabin while I'm not using it? Indeed, there are a lot of things I don't use most of the time. I have several toilets that are idle most of the time. Why shouldn't anyone be allowed to enter my home to use my toilets when I don't use them (assuming they cause no harm to it and replace toilet paper, clean up afterwards etc.)?

Human action does not make sense other than in one context: values. Values are in turn something that is produced by the organism and thereby become PART of the organism, either as a body or in the case of humans also as property. I am thus not opposed to actions playing an important part in property (values = that which we ACT to gain or keep), but
the full context must be value creation that gives rise to ownership. Farming land qualifies, whereas pouring soup into the ocean does not.

-----
It is not an accident that all living beings are self-producing. That is the way it MUST be for all living beings. Otherwise they are not alive.

The use theory is very closely related to the Lockean property right theory of labor, because use requires action and action requires labor. The Lockean property rights based on labor for the purpose of value creation makes more sense because it does not look at actions in isolation, but on the overarching purpose of the actions in relation to the organism as a whole. When an organism expends energy it is with its own life as a stake. Those actions need to contribute to the replenishment of the organism and its energy store, otherwise it dies. That is why we humans need to have security of property. We need to know that we are not wasting our resources when we build something, and that it is stolen from us or destroyed once we are finished. We therefore need to *control* the *fruits* of our own *labor* for the furtherment of our own lives.

[1] http://www.eoht.info...
[2] http://www.eoht.info...
Sieben

Con

====Pro Case====

1) Attribution Ownership Through Work

A) Insufficient Definition of Life

Pro further complicates his definition of life by invoking dissipative structures. He then goes on to say that even this is an insufficient condition for life, and that things need to generate their own boundary… and even though the sun has a well defined, generated boundary, "gravity" is supposedly acting on it to keep it together, therefore the sun is not alive.

Well, I have news. I do not keep myself together through willpower. Charged forces keep me together [1]. Charged forces keep rocks together. Etc etc… So I don't generate my own boundary, electromagnetism does. According to Pro, I am not alive.

EXTENSION – even if you buy Pro's definition of life, it does not imply self ownership rights. If Insects and Ameobas own themselves, then we're in trouble because we squish them all the time.

Indeed, his analysis is backwards. He begins by assuming that living things have agency and are able to create themeslves. In reality, many living things don't have agency or the capacity to reason. It is THIS quality, and this quality alone, that is the source of natural rights. Advanced scientific words elucidate nothing.

B) Infinite Regression

Pro admits that we are created by other beings, and that AFTER we are born, we continue to create ourselves. That's fine, but Pro thinks that ownership stems from creation… and if parents create the child, then by Pro's logic, that means parents OWN the child. This results in a world where everybody is owned by someone else, who is in turn owned etc… which causes another infinite regression to pop up.

C) Performative Contradiction of Self Creation

Pro concedes this point but for some reason thinks that adults have fully created themselves, and therefore own themselves. This is obviously false because large numbers of people have helped me reach adulthood. Parents, farmers, doctors, etc… So all of society is mixed in with me. By Pro's logic, this means society owns me.

D) Self Creation is Irrelevant

Pro goes off on a pseudo-philosophical tangent here. He basically doesn't think you can be counted as "alive" if you don't reproduce, regenerate cells, or die. I'll just accept this definition, and continue my argument that life is completely irrelevant to a discussion of rights. Only agency and the capacity to reason. So if we build a robot with a human's brain in it, it can't have kids, regenerate itself, or "die" in the conventional sense of the term, it can still have rights.

(2) Control Ownership Through Humans

A) Rights are antisocial

Pro concedes this point. He goes on to say that humans don't normally use violence… but that would mean that ANY RIGHTS are AGAINST human nature, since they require violence to enforce. So following Pro, humans have no natural rights because they are naturally peaceful.

B) Argument from Biological Happenstance

Pro says there's nothing automatic about social behaviour, but its still natural… which kind of confuses me because, as I used the terms, I meant them to describe stuff that happens on its own.

i) So here is Pro's big slight of hand. He uses "natural" in "natural rights" to mean the same thing as "biological". Even if you buy that, his argument still fails from the Antisocial discourse above.

The term "natural rights" is used to mean something UNIVERSAL [2]. Pro's whole case is predicated on GENETICS. Even if all humans were genetically identical, his theory of rights would still fail to apply to intelligent, rational aliens, non-biological humans, etc.

ii) Pro tries to write off human violence as an exception, rather than rule. So now he's further truncating the definition of "natural" to only include things that happen *most of the time*. Modern wars aside, humans have regularly resorted to violence as far back as we have evidence [3].

Humans have also probably scratched their behinds since time immemorial, and yet my opponent is not adding it to his list of natural rights... so Pro can't really believe that biology is the source of rights.

iii) DROPPED, reprinted:

"Anti-social humans can still have theories of mutual respect. Even if people are narrowly self interested, they can still respect each other's rights out of pragmatism and self preservation."

3) Mixing Labor with Nature

Pro adds another criterion to ownership, namely that it must create value. Since value is subjective, this doesn't mean much. Pouring soup into the ocean could mean A LOT to me. So according to Pro, this would mean I own the ocean.

Pro tries to deflect this by making the point blank claim that soup+ocean != value… why this does not create value is never explained.

====Con Case====

1) Theory of Self Ownership

Pro badly misunderstands this point. I do not assume that self ownership is part of our nature. Indeed, the communal lifestyle of hunter gatherer tribes more closely resembles communism. Self ownership and property rights are weird.

The point is that it is impossible to argue against self ownership, because self ownership is implicitly assumed by the telos of argumentation – i.e., the consent of the audience. Since Pro and I are in an argument, self ownership must show up implicitly whether we like it or not. In this way it is "natural". There is no getting around it. Genetic engineering would not change this fact.

2) Extension of Self Ownership

Pro points out that once you stop acting on things, you no longer own them. He only considers the superficial action such as "building a statue" or "building a cabin", and does not look at the action in broader context. People are engaged in Artisanship and Construction. It is only an intermediate step to create the object. The end of the action is presumably to DO something with it, and usually this requires some sort of exclusion of others.

This appropriation is limited to unused and voluntarily transferred resources; else it would conflict with other's similar rights.

Pro ignores the core pragmatic difference between our two systems, namely that mine is unmaterialistic. It allows people to use the same resources so long as they do not interfere with each other's activities.

So my theory allows radio waves to be broadcast through farm land, and even through people. (In Pro's toilet example, it WOULD be a violation of my use-rights, since one of the uses of my house is to be a secure and private place)

Conversely, Pro says that you can exclude anyone from anything you've created, which means he's not cool with radio waves, harmless photons, or even my gravitational field (which I can't help). If he took his theory seriously, he would be allowed to declare war on everyone and everything, because it all impacts his creations SOMEHOW. Thus is the downfall of the materialist approach.

=== Conclusion ===

Pro has been arguing for natural rights under the assumption that "natural" means "biological". He's wrong because "natural rights" has always meant universal, metaphysical, etc. It has never depended on genetics. Even if rights were derived biologically, he's given no evidence that peace is biological. Worse still, if humans are peaceful, there can be no natural rights because rights are inherently violent.

Con's concept of self ownership is superior because it actually establishes a right that does not depend on biological chance. The extension of self ownership onto the real world is limited only by non-aggression. Since property is not aggressive, it is allowed (but not required) by self ownership.

I thank Pro for his promptness and organization. Peace.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.livescience.com...
Debate Round No. 2
onarchy

Pro

1) Attribution Ownership Through Work

A) Insufficient Definition of Life

There is a fundamental difference between the way gravity acts on a body and the way an organism acts on its surroundings. A sun or a planet doesn't have to DO anything to be acted upon by gravity and assembled into a blob. It can just sit there passively. Organisms are different. If they just sit there and do not act, they will very quickly disintegrate and die. Precisely this mortality of living beings gives them *values*. Only those organisms that value their life (i.e. act to gain or keep their life) will actually secure long-term existence. Because of this all organisms are value creatures. They perform labor in order to create value for themselves to secure long term existence. Suns do not have to act to maintain their boundaries. Organisms do.

Life as self-producing entities makes self-ownership in the attribution sense innate to all life. Even Amoeba own themselves in the sense that they are their OWN creations. In social animals this form of self-ownership is mutually *respected* by other species members. Thus, for instance in humans, self-ownership in a social context implies not only self-attribution but self-control.

B) Infinite regression

Parents own their children to some extent. It is certainly correct for a parent to say that it is THEIR child, i.e. attribution ownership. The fact that they have created them also gives them some control over their children: they have a right to raise them and give them their own values. However, they do not fully own their children as the children actually bring self-creation into the mix. Children have their own metabolism which self-sustains them and continuously recreates themselves. Therefore parents' right to partial control over their children expires.

C) Performative Contradiction of Self Creation

No self-created being can be rightfully owned by others because they are "slippery." Even if you can mix your labor with them and partially own them for a short amount of time (such as parents' control over their children) the self-creation will overcome this and they will simply create themselves anew as new beings all the time. Self-ownership is continuously renewed whereas claims on other people's lives are continuously eroded.

D) Self-creation is irrelevant

The topic of artificial life is an interesting one, but beyond the scope of this discussion. I simply note that any living being today by evolutionary necessity MUST be self-producing and self-reproducing (or have close relative who is self-reproducing). All living beings in existence today exist ONLY because they are self-creating. Hence self-creation is very relevant.

(2) Control Ownership Through Humans

A) Rights are antisocial

Although the exertion of rights in themselves are antisocial (violent) it does not mean that they are unnatural. Humans are peaceful by nature, but we are also (and primarily) self-interested beings. We value our lives (a value which is encoded into our self-creating bodies as a strong tendency) and therefore we will act to defend it. which is also natural. So we humans have a dual relationship to violence: peaceful when respected, violent when violated. The common factor is reciprocation: tit for tat. We are peaceful towards the peaceful, and violent towards the violent. A human society will normally be dominated by peace because we are PRODUCTIVE beings and therefore require peace to produce values. Peace is therefore the norm, violence is the exception.

B) Argument from biological happenstance

That something is biologically natural does not mean that it must always occur in nature. It is natural for a child to be born with 10 toes and 10 fingers, but sometimes something goes wrong.

i) we are normally peaceful by nature. Rights pertain to what violence should be used for. What is the NATURAL thing for a PEACEFUL being to use violence for? Obviously self-defense against violators who break the peace.

ii) actually scratching one's behind IS a natural right, because it is a peaceful activity. It is the exercise of peaceful self-ownership.

iii) dropped

3) Mixing labor with Nature

Values are not subjective, they are personal but objective (i.e. reality based). Life is objectively the highest natural value of all living beings because without this value they would not exist. While pouring soup into the ocean could "mean a lot" to someone, it probably does not promote their existence. All living beings have only a limited amount of time and energy and the labor that they performed must therefore naturally be channeled into activity that promotes the existence and flourishing of its life. Property rights are ONLY gained by the kind of labor in which that labor results in values, i.e. things that are objectively of importance to the promotion of the existence and flourishing of their lives.

=== Con case ===

1) Theory of self ownership

I contest that the communal lifestyle of hunter gatherer tribes more closely resembles communism. [1] They all have private property, and they often have CORPORATIONS together (analogous to Ltd or Inc) based on personal relations and peaceful cooperation. Self-ownership and property rights are NOT weird.

I agree that it is impossible to ARGUE against self-ownership, because rational argument by definition is a peaceful activity, but so? Your opponent may refuse to argue and present only one "argument" to you backed up by a gun: "obey." The fact that people can choose NOT to argue but instead resort to power makes the point about rationality implying self-ownership moot. Yes, it does, but people may choose not to be rational.

2) Extension of Self Ownership

It makes no sense to say that you are doing something with your cabin when you are in the city and the cabin is standing idle. By Cons logic one does not interfere with each other's activities if the cabin is used by others while one is in the city. If not, then Con is pushing the meaning of "doing" very far to artificially force his point.

There is no contradiction between peaceful self-ownership of homesteaded farm property and someone else's peaceful radiowaves passing through the property. Homesteading is NOT materialistic contrary to Con's contention. One does not homestead atoms, but labored values, which may or may not include matter. If one farms a land one has NOT mixed one's labor with the radiowaves passing through there, because one hasn't performed labor that created value from radiowaves. So long as the radiowaves do not interfere with farming another person may homestead the radiowaves and send them through farmland.

===Conclusion===
Anyone who claims that humans do not have a strong natural inclination to be peaceful and respect the boundaries of other people people and their property should reconsider their position. [2] There is no contradiction between being peaceful towards the peaceful and violent towards the violent.

Con brings up important points with respect to usage that does not interfere with other people's usage, but this ONLY makes sense within the context of property rights based on the creation of values. Why does a mother have the right to raise her child any more than, say, a teacher? Both are "using" the children part of the time. A usage based rights theory cannot give an answer, but the labor theory of ownership CAN. It is mother's child because she created it and therefore has a natural right to raise it. This gives her partial ownership (attribution and some control) over her child until it is an adult. Ownership based on labored value also explains natural abortion rights. So long as the fetus is in the womb of the mother it is not yet a self-creating being. At this point the mother has a right to terminate the pregnancy, because the fetus has not yet achieved the status of self-ownership.

[1] http://alturl.com...
[2] http://alturl.com...
Sieben

Con

==== Pro case ====

1) Attribution ownership through work

A) Insufficient Definition of Life

Pro has now clarified his definition of life to the point where I don't feel like nitpicking anymore. Instead, I'll ask that the judges look to my extension – "Life" cannot be the source of rights because insects and amoebas do not have rights.

Con offered the standard of Agency to determine whether something has rights. Agency may, by Pro's definition, require life, but a philosophy of life is moot. All we have to do is look at agency. Is something capable of reason? Etc.

B) Infinite Regression

Pro thinks that parents can own their children to some extent. Presumably this extent is limited to whenever ownership fails some utilitarian test. For example "Can you beat your kids for no reason?" "No, you don't own them that much!".

So if pushed, Pro isn't defending property rights, he's defending some other ulterior standard. He has solved the infinite regression by giving up on property rights.

C) Performative Contradiction of Self Creation

In a similar vein to above, Pro thinks that people can own each other, but eventually self-create themselves out of it. Unless you are living on a sustenance farm in the middle of nowhere, I don't see how this is possible. I eat other people's food, wear clothes they made, etc. I do not create myself.

So by my view, his logic means that everyone owns everyone because we trade with one another. Even under his loose child-rearing interpretation, people own each other. So Pro does not successfully justify universal self ownership.

D) Self Creation is irrelevant

Pro thinks that stuff like AI is beyond the scope of this debate. It wasn't my intention to unleash a slew of "what ifs" under this point. Only to argue that even if something didn't create itself, it could still have rights if it had Agency. In other words, we can ignore Pro's focus on life and biology and still arrive at rights. This means most of Pro's discourse is non-essential.

2) Ownership Control Through Humans

A) Rights are antisocial

Pro changes his picture of man… I wish he had done this sooner because now we have no empirical conflict. Pro's claim amounts to the idea that people naturally pick Lockean rights, therefore they are natural rights. There's no source on this, but I agree…

B) Argument from biological happenstance

Pro says that natural tendencies get violated all the time, as in mutation. By natural, pro must mean "probable" or "normal", because mutation IS natural (see evolution).

i) Pro thinks we are normally peaceful. I gave a citation showing that we've use violence all through history, especially aggressively. Since he doesn't have a source for his claim, it show flow to Con.

EXTENSION – Even if humans are only rarely violent, it is normal for them to be only rarely violent. So Pro doesn't actually shut the door on war and murder. Just… most of the time. Most of the time be libertarian but its also natural to kill each other once in a while. Since murder once in a blue moon is natural, it is a natural right under pro's logic. This dissolves Pro advocacy of a consistent set of rights.

ii) Pro concedes that scratching your butt is a natural right. I think what he means is that it is PROTECTED by natural rights… but it is not itself a natural right. That would be absurd right? Natural rights: 1) You own yourself 2) You have property rights 3) You can scratch your butt…

Regardless, if you follow Pro's logic that normal = a right, then all sorts of crazy things become natural rights IN AND OF THEMSELVES. Pro's concept of rights is basically historical. He derives rights from what humans have usually done in the past. That's not a bad place to start pragmatically, but it is void of all philosophical content.

iii) Anti social beings can still have rights. I thank Pro heartily and sincerely for admitting the drop. Takes oodles of ego-maturity.

3) Mixing Labor with Nature

Pro doesn't think that values are subjective. A thousand examples of people feeling strongly over very stupid things come to mind. Instead, I think it will suffice to say that values are by definition subjective.

In Pro's narrow sense, only things which directly sustain life can be owned. So you can own food, your house, clothes, and that's about it.

=== Con Case ===

1) Theory of self ownership

Pro gives a source refuting the "communism" of ancient societies. My observation was auxiliary fluff. The real point is that I don't care about what people did in the past. If they were perfect libertarians, great. If they were cannibal communists, so what. A theory of natural rights transcends history.

Pro goes on to concede that self ownership can never be argued against. This is the whole point – that self ownership springs up instantly in any theory of rights, any philosophy, or any argument for that matter. This is what makes self ownership a NATURAL right.

Whether people choose to ignore it doesn't change this fact. Communists might murder everyone and think that 2+2=5. Do their actions change natural rights? Is mathematics wrong? No. They're wrong.

2) Extension of Self Ownership

Pro conceives of action only in the narrowest, physical sense. I asked him to instead consider extended actions. You don't just plow land and then stop owning it when you go to sleep. You are farming the land. That includes plowing, sowing, harvesting, selling, etc.

So you don't stop owning something just because you physically aren't engaged in it. Again, mine is a non-materialistic approach. You approach human behavior in abstract by looking at its purpose. Not superficial physical episodes.

Pro goes on to claim that you do not own actual material, you own value. This is confusing because his above theory of self ownership and definition of life is PREDICATED on materialism – the physical process of creation.

=== Pro Conclusion ===

I'm going to save pro a lot of grief and not go into abortion :P

Instead, I'll say that the use-theory of ownership means that parents do not own their children. But they have the right to protect and nurture them. They have homesteaded the right to "parenting" in the way that farmers homestead the right to "farming".

=== Con Conclusion ===

1) Agency

Pro never addresses my reliance on the concept of agency to distinguish rights. I pointed out that just because something is alive that doesn't give it rights. Bacteria comes to mind… Agency is the only way we can arrive at self ownership as natural right (via argumentation).

2) Extent of Property Rights

On one hand, Pro thinks that human beings can own each other (depending on creation). This obviously nullifies self ownership as a natural right. If you accept my interpretation that everyone creates everyone continuously (in society at least), then you realize that Pro's logic obliterates self ownership entirely. So Pro has rights flying all over the place.

On the other hand, Pro only wants to protect property rights that create objective value. Objective value is an oxymoron. People value all sorts of crazy things. Regardless, this makes pro's property rights very very narrow, restricting the human race to production of food, shelter, and clothing.

3) Use Theory of Rights

If this seems fuzzy, that's because it is. The only implication of self ownership is non-aggression. But self ownership is a vehicle through which property rights MAY be exerted. If you are doing X, and X is peaceful, you have a right to keep doing it. Whether X is playing ping pong, or farming (plowing+irrigating+harvesting+selling), it is protected. So the Con version of property rights is much more flexible, allowing a greater depth of creativity in property rights to emerge well beyond mixed-labor theory.
Debate Round No. 3
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Walrasian_Equilibrium 6 years ago
Walrasian_Equilibrium
I said I was going to judge this debate a few weeks ago, and I still have a couple of days to do that. Not really sure what to do about the new arguments. I disagree strongly with both debaters, although I would never in a million years want to debate this subject. Still, considering the awful subject, the debate was pretty enjoyable.

I couldn't find anything big to point to in order to determine the winner. Still, in the end I'll probably it to Con, who simply did a better job of debating, both in pointing out the flaws in his opponent's arguments and in responding to his opponent's criticisms. Pro, however, debated well, and it was close enough that all I can really say is that Con did a better job in the end.

I'll try to offer some specific details tomorrow of what I mean by Con doing a better job of debating. It was quality stuff from both sides. Good job to the both of you (and Jesus Christ debate something fun next time).
Posted by J.Kenyon 6 years ago
J.Kenyon
I might have accused Pro of both an appeal to nature (http://en.wikipedia.org...) and the naturalistic fallacy (http://en.wikipedia.org...), along with a failure to bridge the is-ought gap. Even without that, Con put in a dominating performance. I'm a bit busy right now, but I'll post a full, formal RFD later if either side wants it.
Posted by onarchy 6 years ago
onarchy
Walrasian,

the appropriate method for mixing the work of two independent people is through MUTUAL AGREEMENT. (trade) One common solution is for the house builder to BUY another man's materials. That is, he exchanges money that he has earned through labor with materials. The builder then becomes the new owner of the material, and the seller then becomes the new owner of the money.

Another less common solution is for the two men to agree to invest in a common house, and then both become share holders (partial owners) in the house according to an agreement reached in advance, but typically reflecting the monetary value each put into the house. Both solutions are examples of voluntary trade.

It is NOT normal for someone to build a house with someone else's material without their expressed permission. That's not how a voluntary society works. But if it happens then if that material is substitutable then a monetary compensation corresponding to the market value of the material is appropriate. If not substitutable, then this calls for the house to demolished in order to recover the illegitimately/stolen material, and if that is not possible then a larger monetary compensation and/or jail is required.

Intellectual property: Lockean property rights based on mixing one's labor with nature gives rise to IP, whereas the libertarian hodge podge ideas of Sibean means that it is perfectly ok for someone to copy an author's book and sell it/distribute it. In his view it is also perfectly ok to freely distribute someone's DNA profile or other sensitive personal information, or to lie about someone to defame them.
Posted by onarchy 6 years ago
onarchy
Walrasian,

I have no idea why you think that it is "obvious" that the definition of life I presented is "300 years old" (it is not) just because you find it weird. The reason you find it weird and unfamiliar is because it is a fairly NEW theory of life, first formulated by Ayn Rand some 60 years ago, then later re-invented by the Chilean biologist Umberto Maturana in the form of Autopoiesis. I accept that this is heavy biology which is not easy for laymen to understand, but that does not make it wrong. I am also quite surprised that you felt that Con's response was "a solid rebuttal" when in fact it was quite shallow and lame. You should instead focus on that "oddly compelling logic" because that was the tingling sensation one gets when one for the first time gets a glimpse of a truly revolutionary, but alien truth. Rather than dismissing it with extremely shallow arguments like the one presented by Con you should start thinking hard about what you've read, because with hard work these alien ideas will become more familiar to you, and eventually bleedingly obvious. BUT it does require hard work. Understanding does not come for free. Ask questions, like the ones you asked Con and myself, because that will allow you to get a handle of the topic for yourself.
Posted by Sieben 6 years ago
Sieben
Yeah this debate was supposed to be a precursor to an IP debate. Unfortunately, onarchy wanted me to accept lockean property rights so we wouldn't have to argue them. I said no way and so we had this debate first.

But sure, that seems like an accurate interpretation. I wouldn't says its explicitly utilitarian, but it IS shaped by the self interest of individual actors, and tempered with respect for other's self ownership/activities.
Posted by Walrasian_Equilibrium 6 years ago
Walrasian_Equilibrium
Questions (unrelated to the debate; I'm simply curious, although don't bother if my questions are answered later in the debate):

Pro:

Suppose one man builds a house using another man's materials. Do they both own the house? My explanation is that the one who physically puts the house together voluntarily gives up his ownership of the house in exchange for ownership of some of the other man's money, or wages. If this is correct, then say that no explicit agreement is made prior to the construction of the house as to how the builder of the house should be compensated for his labor. Would the builder be justified in refusing wages and claiming partial ownership of house?

My mental image is little labor units fighting for dominance inside the walls....

Con:

Your explanation seems less metaphysical and more a point about rights being necessary concepts in order to communicate certain important principles. In that sense, it's a rather utilitarian take on matters. Does this seem like an accurate interpretation of your position?

I'd be curious as to how both of you feel about intellectual property, based on your respective theories of property rights.
Posted by Sieben 6 years ago
Sieben
I'll explain it more (mostly with quotes from the round) in the morning. I gtg to bed now.
Posted by Walrasian_Equilibrium 6 years ago
Walrasian_Equilibrium
First round went better than I expected. I was drawn in by Pro's oddly compelling logic, and I liked the way his arguments initially seemed unrelated to the subject at hand but came together rather neatly at the end, which made Con's solid rebuttal more exciting than it should have been, given the subject material. A lot of Con's responses were my own (especially to Pro's weird definition of life--you can tell the theory is over 300 years old), so I'm looking forward to how Pro responds.

Con's explanation of self-ownership is so unpersuasive and undeveloped that I have to wonder if he simply ran out of characters, as it is the crux of his argument and is seriously wanting. Con successfully proves that there can be no theory of other-ownership, but this doesn't prove self-ownership, although I can see how, if he had more space, he could take what he has and extend it to provide an argument for self-ownership. I'm hoping that Con gets a chance to explain his version of self-ownership more thoroughly elsewhere, or else he risks losing the debate for a lame reason, assuming Pro can capitalize.

Maybe Con's argument actually is valid and I simply missed something, but I don't see it. Either of you, if I'm actually erring in logic, feel free to explain why Con's argument is valid, as this debate shouldn't be decided by MY mistakes. Or, if Con actually did do a poor job of arguing that point, I'm sure I will see either Con rectify his mistake or else face the consequences in the next two rounds.

All that aside, both of you did fantastic jobs. It seems that I'm not going to regret agreeing to judge this.
Posted by Sieben 6 years ago
Sieben
There's nozick's soup can, if that counts as "bizarre".

We were going to get into meta-biology but I sidestepped it, so, sorry.
Posted by Walrasian_Equilibrium 6 years ago
Walrasian_Equilibrium
I'll read this eventually, but it's long and I'm busy and it's a boring subject. I've got 30 days, so...blegh. Lockean property rights? Christ. Please tell me one of you whips out ad hominems or really bizarre non sequiturs halfway through.

Still, I'll do it. Hey, I might even vote if I can figure out why they want my phone number, since it looks like I'll be able to determine the winner. The lure of power is already corrupting me, I fear.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by J.Kenyon 6 years ago
J.Kenyon
onarchySiebenTied
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