Arkadi

private owneship of land and natural resources

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Is there any objectivist refutation of the following reasoning:

(1) The Earth and its resources seem to have been originally the collective property of all inhabitants of the planet. (2) There seems to be no way in which the original owner could have consented to transfer those resources (partially) into private possession. (3) A transfer of property made without a consent of its owner is stealing. (4) If something is stolen from a rightful owner and offered for sale, the one who knowingly buys it and makes his property, is a participant in the stealing.=> (5) Private possession of natural resources is stealing.

Thanks.

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Is there any objectivist refutation of the following reasoning:

(1) The Earth and its resources seem to have been originally the collective property of all inhabitants of the planet.

It "seems" that way to whom? It doesn't "seem" that way to me. What are the facts rather than the "seems"?

(2) There seems to be no way in which the original owner could have consented to transfer those resources (partially) into private possession.

Again with "seems."

How about if the original owner just decides to consent to transfer the resources? Pretty simple. Badaboom, badabing.

(3) A transfer of property made without a consent of its owner is stealing.

(4) If something is stolen from a rightful owner and offered for sale, the one who knowingly buys it and makes his property, is a participant in the stealing.=>

Then you had better prove that property was transferred without consent of the owner, rather than just basing your judgments on what kinda maybe "seems" to possibly be the case. Document -- prove -- wh owned what and when, and demonstrate who stole from the owners.

(5) Private possession of natural resources is stealing.

Thanks.

Does not logically follow.

J

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Thanks, Jonathan.

The "fact" is that the original owners of the land were its inhabitants.

Let me put a simpler question.

I legally "own" a piece of land on which originally Native Americans lived. (fact #1)

This piece of land was stolen from them by my ancestors. (fact #2)

Conclusion #1: I "own" a land that was originally stolen.

If something stolen is offered for sale the one who, while knowing this, buys it and makes his property, participates in the stealing. (fact #3)

Conclusion #2: I am a thief.

Any objections to this reasoning?

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Is there any objectivist refutation of the following reasoning:

(1) The Earth and its resources seem to have been originally the collective property of all inhabitants of the planet. (2) There seems to be no way in which the original owner could have consented to transfer those resources (partially) into private possession. (3) A transfer of property made without a consent of its owner is stealing. (4) If something is stolen from a rightful owner and offered for sale, the one who knowingly buys it and makes his property, is a participant in the stealing.=> (5) Private possession of natural resources is stealing.

Thanks.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the above is true.

Your existence would then make you a thief: You have not gotten permission from all of the owners of the Earth and its resources to consume any of the resources for your own survival.

What do you propose to do about it? What punishment should you deserve?

J

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Thanks, Jonathan.

The "fact" is that the original owners of the land were its inhabitants.

Let me put a simpler question.

I legally "own" a piece of land on which originally Native Americans lived. (fact #1)

This piece of land was stolen from them by my ancestors. (fact #2)

Conclusion #1: I "own" a land that was originally stolen.

If something stolen is offered for sale the one who, while knowing this, buys it and makes his property, participates in the stealing. (fact #3)

Conclusion #2: I am a thief.

Any objections to this reasoning?

Many native inhabitant of regions throughout the world, especially nomadic peoples, did not have a concept of land ownership. They did not claim to own the land.

J

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(can't understand why I cannot paste anything into my response :sad: )

I do not need "permission from all the owners of the Earth" precisely because it is a collective property, and I belong to the collective of owners. Likewise I do not need to a permission to use a shared bank account of which I am one of the owners, or to use property that belongs to my family.

Just because somebody does not use the concept of ownership, it is ethical to initiate force against them?

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Arkadi,

There's a thinking fallacy that is very common in O-Land. I call it, for lack of a better term, deducing reality from a principle.

The proper form of arriving at a principle starts with observation. When observation consistently contradicts a principle, I hold it should not be used for identifying anything other than an idea in someone's head. That is until actual observation can validate it.

Your questions about initial land ownership have an assumption at root that does not reflect observable reality. The assumption is that all the earth belongs to specific humans under a specific concept of land ownership. Notice that the earth doesn't care about that and, frankly, neither does the human species if you look at history.

Every longstanding country on earth throughout all known human history was founded on violent conquest of some sort. Every one.

That's reality.

We can build on that reality and arrive at the need for property rights, NIOF, etc., if people want to live in peace.

Or we can deduce reality from the NIOF principle, a property rights concept, and so forth and blank out that reality because it is inconvenient to our mental constructs.

Do we use principles and concepts that are integrations of observations or do we deduce our starting observations from ideas?

In other words, are principles for humans or are they for logical constructs that have nothing to do with humans, but must be imposed on humans?

Lots of people in O-Land commit the fallacy of deducing reality from an idea they like.

This is similar, but not quite the same, as the cognitive to normative process in evaluating something I often talk about. When you do it backwards (judging something before you correctly identify it), you get all kinds of errors.

In this case, when building a principle, if you already know what you are going to see before you look and you deduce the rest from that prejudice as you look, you will be prone to errors of all sorts. Especially blankouts.

That's not Objectivism, though, unless it is. :)

Michael

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(again, it sucks not being able to paste, so I have to retype quotations :sad:()

Michael--

How about this claim: "Every longstanding country on earth thoughout all known human history" had taxation. "Every one. That's reality." Should we "build" on that reality and stop calling taxation "stealing"?

I, for one, am all for that!

But would most objectivists agree?

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Thanks, Jonathan.

The "fact" is that the original owners of the land were its inhabitants.

Let me put a simpler question.

I legally "own" a piece of land on which originally Native Americans lived. (fact #1)

This piece of land was stolen from them by my ancestors. (fact #2)

Conclusion #1: I "own" a land that was originally stolen.

If something stolen is offered for sale the one who, while knowing this, buys it and makes his property, participates in the stealing. (fact #3)

Conclusion #2: I am a thief.

Any objections to this reasoning?

Many native inhabitant of regions throughout the world, especially nomadic peoples, did not have a concept of land ownership. They did not claim to own the land.

This makes me think of northern British Columbia -- where I was born and raised, in Prince Rupert. The city was and is a centre of First Nations cultures ... including the very long-lived Nisga'a.

When the British Crown declared sovereignty over British Columbia and the Nisga'a, the concept of 'land ownership' was introduced to the tribes. The Nisga'a, among others, learned that concept very quickly. It meant that lands they occupied, traveled through, used and traded in were not theirs to dispose of or use without interference from the Crown.

The Nisga'a were wise. They learned English. They learned law. They learned geography and history and British Imperial power structures. With this conceptual knowledge in hand, they traveled to London to meet Queen Victoria, there to convince her that her land ownership policies were mistaken.

Fast forward a hundred years, and title to land was returned to the Nisga'a in a landmark treaty.

I would just mention that if you and your 'nomad people' do not have the concept of 'land ownership' you will quickly learn it when someone tries to restrict your use of territories formerly under your control.

-- on the downside, the treaty cost the province one hundred years of effort and expense, and there are no new treaties ready to be signed.

What I love about the Nisga'a is their patience and their retention of the culture. Their lands in northern BC deliver millions of fresh tourist dollars. Gazillions over time.

nisgaa3.jpg

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Log in. Highlight your text, hit reply on the topic on OL. Put a check in the enable HTML box. Paste your text into the letter box. Delete the check mark in HTML. Click the top left box that looks like a light switch just above the "B" for bold. Continue to type and edit in the reply box.

Peter

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Thanks, Peter!

Rather tricky but works :)

(Strangely, though, while responding to my yesterday's posting last night I could easily paste without any of these tricks)

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I do not need "permission from all the owners of the Earth" precisely because it is a collective property, and I belong to the collective of owners. Likewise I do not need to a permission to use a shared bank account of which I am one of the owners, or to use property that belongs to my family.

Then how are you coming to the idea that anyone could "steal" what you're claiming that they already own?

Just because somebody does not use the concept of ownership, it is ethical to initiate force against them?

Define "initiate." If I accept the concept of ownership, but you do not, and I've just killed a rabbit on the collective-of-the-world's property, and I gut it and grill it, and I'm about to eat it, and then you come along and try to take it from me because your theory is that no one can own anything, would you be initiating force in attempting to take the cooked rabbit, or would your perspective be that I was initiating force against you be trying to stop you from taking the rabbit which you claim that no one can own?

J

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Jonathan--
"Then how are you coming to the idea that anyone could "steal" what you're claimng that they already own?"--
If my family, including myself, owns a house, and at some point I declare, without the rest of the family's consent, that a particular room in it belongs henceforth to me alone (so I can sell it etc.), this is stealing.

"I've just killed a rabbit on the collective-of-the-world's property, and I gut it and grill it, and I'm about to eat it, and then you come along and try to take it from me because your theory is that no one can own anything"--
No, it is NOT my theory that "no one can own anything".
My theory is that we own the rabbit COLLECTIVELY.
If you and me have a shared bank-account, you are entitled to take from it whatever amount you want.
What you are not entitled to is to split the account unilaterally and declare a part of it belonging to you alone.

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I would just mention that if you and your 'nomad people' do not have the concept of 'land ownership' you will quickly learn it when someone tries to restrict your use of territories formerly under your control.

Indeed. Any time that differing cultures meet, and clash, then learning the others' concepts, ways and traditions is extremely important. An ancient, peaceful means of existing in a naturally bountiful, sparsely inhabited expanse of land will clash with a means of existing based on agriculture and manufacturing. Both cultures should do their best to understand what they're getting into when dealing with the other. When space and resources become more limited, inefficient use of them will, much more often than not, lose out to efficient use of them. If you need 20 square miles to feed your people with hunting and gathering techniques, and the new arrivals have technology that can feed the same number with 2 acres, your "culture" is on the way out.

J

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No, it is NOT my theory that "no one can own anything".

My theory is that we own the rabbit COLLECTIVELY.

Then, if I kill, gut and grill the rabbit, you have a right to eat it? Or a part of it? And I would therefore be "initiating" force against you if I protected it from your devouring it?

Wouldn't we have to share it with all of the other owners of everything? Or wouldn't we have to document our consumption of the collective property, tally up what we owe everyone else, and find a way to pay them back?

I'm an artist, so, let's sat that I harvest a batch of hemp, clean it and weave it, and I boil the rabbit's leftover bits to create rabbit-skin glue with which to mix pigments that I've found and refined, and then I create a painting. A good one. Your theory is that you have a collective ownership stake in it, even though you've done nothing to help create it? It was made from resources which you claim to partially own, therefore you get a cut of it? Maybe you even have the "right" to make your own marks and "add" to the painting?

If you and me have a shared bank-account, you are entitled to take from it whatever amount you want.

In other words, all of it!

What you are not entitled to is to split the account unilaterally and declare a part of it belonging to you alone.

Actually, one can drain such an account and establish a new one which doesn't allow access to anyone else.

How is it that you think that one person can take from an account whatever amount he wants, but yet at the same time you state that he can't take a part that is his alone? Do you not see the contradiction in what you're saying?

But, anyway, you haven't shown that the Earth is, was, or should be owned by everyone. You haven't shown that there was an agreement to share the "bank-account." You're just asserting that it "seems" that it should be shared, or that, historically, you assume that it probably would have been, or just that you can't imagine its not having been shared equally/collectively.

J

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"Then, if I kill, gut and grill the rabbit, you have a right to eat it?"--
NO. Just as I have no right to claim any part of the money that you had withdrawn from our shared account.

"How is it that you think that one person can take from an account whatever amount he wants, but yet at the same time you state that he can't take a part that is his alone? Do you not see the contradiction in what you're saying?"--
NO, because this is how shared accounts operate in reality.
And in reality there are no contradictions.

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"Then, if I kill, gut and grill the rabbit, you have a right to eat it?"--

NO. Just as I have no right to claim any part of the money that you had withdrawn from our shared account.

"How is it that you think that one person can take from an account whatever amount he wants, but yet at the same time you state that he can't take a part that is his alone? Do you not see the contradiction in what you're saying?"--

NO, because this is how shared accounts operate in reality.

And in reality there are no contradictions.

So, you seem to be proposing a notion of property rights based in labor? If a person brings his labor to developing a piece of property, then he has "withdrawn" it from the shared account, and it is no longer everyone else's property?

J

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"So, you seem to be proposing a notion of property rights based in labor?"--

I have not yet thought that far so as to be able to answer this.

There might be an essential difference, relevant to ownership, between a rabbit and a piece of land.

Thanks for suggesting this avenue for future exploration.

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Arkadi,

Ayn Rand didn't do anything but hint at the following position--like when she gushed about how the government traded plots of land out west in the 1800's for a commitment to live on it and farm it.

I believe a nation arises from the tribal and warlike part of human nature. Then, for maintenance, the nation has to develop rules of behavior. Stage One: Create the nation. Stage Two: Grow the nation. Conditions are different for each stage.

For the second stage, representative government with checks and balances and based on individual rights has proven to be the most successful--in practice--of all systems at producing wealth and individual freedom.

This does not mean the nature of individual rights arises from government, but the decision for the ruling power to recognize individual rights and enforce them does. In other words, a nation created by violence reaches a point where the fighting stops and whoever lives there now has to abide by xxxxxxxx rules. Among those rules are how property is defined and so on.

That, to me, or some variation of that approach is far more logical than trying to twist the meaning of individual rights, property and so on all out of recognition.

Here's a thought. Can you imagine the nightmare of trying to trace the bloodlines of the Canaanites before Moses down to today and claim their respective property rights based on the land their sheep grazed on back then? Would that make any kind of sense to anyone except the most diehard deduce-reality-from-principle nitpicker? :)

Think about it. Every time a nation is conquered or a large tract of land is staked out for a country, all property rights before that moment cease to exist and new ones start. The only exceptions are those who manage to make a deal or some kind of understanding with the new government. All other previous property owners lose. With one exception. Those who overthrow the new government. Then they get to decide what to recognize and enforce.

I'm not saying this is moral or immoral. It's certainly not Objectivist politics, although I use Objectivist epistemological principles (observe then integrate) to arrive at it.

I am saying that nothing is gained by ignoring chunks of reality about human nature and formulating "shoulds" that don't even explain the ignored parts except to say its all evil. If you go strictly by the O-Land view of human nature in ancient history, mankind has always been hopelessly evil and a bright individual star of good (of reason) here and there has saved it from its despicable self. A rare exception is ancient Greek culture where Western philosophy was born, and even that was mostly evil. :)

But that's imposing an error called presentism on the past. I believe the people back then the world over generally tried to be good and they, by necessity, organized their societies around the lower parts of the human brain (reptilian and mammalian levels) because there was no knowledge yet to do otherwise. That means the violent part, too. Reason grew out of that. Reason evolved. It did not appear by magic and fight a war with unspeakable evil that people as a whole knowingly practiced in order to "hate the good for being the good."

As you can see, my view is not standard Objectivism,

Michael

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"So, you seem to be proposing a notion of property rights based in labor?"--

I have not yet thought that far so as to be able to answer this.

There might be an essential difference, relevant to ownership, between a rabbit and a piece of land.

Thanks for suggesting this avenue for future exploration.

You're welcome.

Are you familiar with the concept of the "Tragedy of the Commons"?

J

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Thank you, Michael.
I do share your concept of the "stages".

My questioning arose in the context of my doubting the sanity of labeling all taxation "stealing".

Especially, as people who are doing this suggest, e.g., that police be funded by public donors; that all roads, streets, and alleys be privatized, etc.

I could rephrase my question thus: are we (Western humanity) already at a "stage" at which abolishing all taxation would not lead to our degeneration?

I strongly doubt this.

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"Then, if I kill, gut and grill the rabbit, you have a right to eat it?"--

NO. Just as I have no right to claim any part of the money that you had withdrawn from our shared account.

"How is it that you think that one person can take from an account whatever amount he wants, but yet at the same time you state that he can't take a part that is his alone? Do you not see the contradiction in what you're saying?"--

NO, because this is how shared accounts operate in reality.

And in reality there are no contradictions.

But shared accounts also work in reality the way Jonathan described. One owner may withdraw any amount she wants from the account and deposit it in another account under her name only (or in her pocket, for that matter) and be done. Which is the exact same thing as splitting the account and declaring part of it her own... which you say is not allowed. Which is it? Either I can take part of the money and call it mine or I can't.

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Dldelancey --

Ok, admittedly there is a "bug" in this analogy; I need to think more about it.

But what about my other analogy, namely, that of a house owned by a family?

Thanks for further critique.

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p.s.

Imagine, this house is big enough, so every member of the family has their "own" room, so they have their "privacy".

But the room is their "own" NOT in the sense of private property.

They cannot rent it, e.g.

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