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Author Topic: A question about property rights  (Read 1049 times)
Denicen
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September 06, 2011, 05:30:02 PM
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I would like to put forth a scenario to be considered by those who advocate strong property rights.

Let's take the Lockean view of property that something becomes property when someone mixes their labor with a natural resource, and after that the owner can use and trade it in whichever way he sees fit.

Now consider a farmer that comes across an unclaimed piece of land. The farmer builds a house on the land, plants crops, digs an irrigation ditch etc. Many years later all of the land around the farmer has been claimed by others, and he comes out with a 20 acre parcel of land (or however much). The farmer now dies in some accidental way. He did not specify any heir that should inherit the land, and he was the only one that worked that piece of land at all. All of the surrounding residents believe that they have as much of a right to his land as everyone else. What is a reasonable way to decide to whom the land belongs?
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September 06, 2011, 05:33:42 PM
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I would like to put forth a scenario to be considered by those who advocate strong property rights.

Let's take the Lockean view of property that something becomes property when someone mixes their labor with a natural resource, and after that the owner can use and trade it in whichever way he sees fit.

Now consider a farmer that comes across an unclaimed piece of land. The farmer builds a house on the land, plants crops, digs an irrigation ditch etc. Many years later all of the land around the farmer has been claimed by others, and he comes out with a 20 acre parcel of land (or however much). The farmer now dies in some accidental way. He did not specify any heir that should inherit the land, and he was the only one that worked that piece of land at all. All of the surrounding residents believe that they have as much of a right to his land as everyone else. What is a reasonable way to decide to whom the land belongs?

It reverts to the State.

Denicen
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September 06, 2011, 05:56:00 PM
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It reverts to the State.

Ah yeah, I should have prefaced that this takes place in AnCapistan or in an area with no government.

But consider, by what legitimacy do you think that the state can claim the land?
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September 06, 2011, 06:56:15 PM
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It reverts to the State.

Ah yeah, I should have prefaced that this takes place in AnCapistan or in an area with no government.

But consider, by what legitimacy do you think that the state can claim the land?

If there is no government/state/tribe there is no law so the land is not really owned; its occupied.  Anyone can take it and they don't have to wait for you to die if they are stronger than you.

As far as I know, most states start on the premise they own everything and that ownership is something that is granted to you in return for taxes, or militia service or whatever.

Denicen
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September 06, 2011, 07:09:39 PM
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It reverts to the State.

Ah yeah, I should have prefaced that this takes place in AnCapistan or in an area with no government.

But consider, by what legitimacy do you think that the state can claim the land?

If there is no government/state/tribe there is no law so the land is not really owned; its occupied.  Anyone can take it and they don't have to wait for you to die if they are stronger than you.

As far as I know, most states start on the premise they own everything and that ownership is something that is granted to you in return for taxes, or militia service or whatever.


Ok, then you are just disagreeing with the Lockean view of property and you are simply saying that "might makes right". Basically you are acknowledging that the state is constituted by a bunch of very powerful robbers. Did I understand that correctly?
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September 06, 2011, 07:17:07 PM
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Ok, then you are just disagreeing with the Lockean view of property and you are simply saying that "might makes right". Basically you are acknowledging that the state is constituted by a bunch of very powerful robbers. Did I understand that correctly?
If the mightier side is the one that says "might makes right", then how can it be otherwise?
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September 06, 2011, 07:20:24 PM
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It reverts to the State.

Ah yeah, I should have prefaced that this takes place in AnCapistan or in an area with no government.

But consider, by what legitimacy do you think that the state can claim the land?

If there is no government/state/tribe there is no law so the land is not really owned; its occupied.  Anyone can take it and they don't have to wait for you to die if they are stronger than you.

As far as I know, most states start on the premise they own everything and that ownership is something that is granted to you in return for taxes, or militia service or whatever.


Ok, then you are just disagreeing with the Lockean view of property and you are simply saying that "might makes right". Basically you are acknowledging that the state is constituted by a bunch of very powerful robbers. Did I understand that correctly?


The state has might.  It doesn't need to be right.  Ownership is a legal concept - not a moral one.  

And yes, I think Hobbes was more sensible than Locke.

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September 06, 2011, 08:12:22 PM
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The state has might.  It doesn't need to be right.  Ownership is a legal concept - not a moral one.  

And yes, I think Hobbes was more sensible than Locke.

Actually, both statements "might makes right" and "ownership" imply moral concepts. Determining which concept is the more moral of the two is in question.

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September 06, 2011, 08:16:36 PM
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The state has might.  It doesn't need to be right.  Ownership is a legal concept - not a moral one.  

And yes, I think Hobbes was more sensible than Locke.

Actually, both statements "might makes right" and "ownership" imply moral concepts. Determining which concept is the more moral of the two is in question.

And you will note that I didn't say "might makes right" I said "It doesn't need to be right." 

I'm an atheist so not particularly interested in the moral aspect of ownership.  "God says I own it really" is a hard argument to counter and if you go to Israel, its a very popular logic.

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September 06, 2011, 08:17:33 PM
 #10

There is no unclaimed land anywhere on earth anymore, and the only place you can own it without paying property taxes is being a native maltan. (Malta is a small island nation in the EU)
I researched this subject for a bout a day a few weeks ago.


It seems the only way to get out of the system is to break it. (Please don't kill me  Lips sealed)

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September 06, 2011, 08:40:04 PM
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And you will note that I didn't say "might makes right" I said "It doesn't need to be right."  

I'm an atheist so not particularly interested in the moral aspect of ownership.  "God says I own it really" is a hard argument to counter and if you go to Israel, its a very popular logic.

Moral doesn't necessarily imply God either. See the following:

mor·al (môrl, mr-)
adj.
1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.
2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
5. Having psychological rather than physical or tangible effects: a moral victory; moral support.
6. Based on strong likelihood or firm conviction, rather than on the actual evidence: a moral certainty.


Good, bad, own, property, right, wrong and moral, among others, are all concepts that describe things or are attitudes towards things which include descriptions other than their physical material characteristics (i.e. electrical, mechanical, magnetic, etc.).

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Hawker
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September 06, 2011, 08:49:49 PM
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And you will note that I didn't say "might makes right" I said "It doesn't need to be right."  

I'm an atheist so not particularly interested in the moral aspect of ownership.  "God says I own it really" is a hard argument to counter and if you go to Israel, its a very popular logic.

Moral doesn't necessarily imply God either. See the following:

mor·al (môrl, mr-)
adj.
1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.
2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
5. Having psychological rather than physical or tangible effects: a moral victory; moral support.
6. Based on strong likelihood or firm conviction, rather than on the actual evidence: a moral certainty.


Good, bad, own, property, right, wrong and moral, among others, are all concepts that describe things or are attitudes towards things which include descriptions other than their physical material characteristics (i.e. electrical, mechanical, magnetic, etc.).

For ownership, if you remove enforcement, what have you left?

FredericBastiat
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September 06, 2011, 09:01:11 PM
 #13

For ownership, if you remove enforcement, what have you left?

Potentially less ownership.

EDIT: To "remove" means to enforce to some extent (you probably meant lacking). Your word came back to bite you Smiley

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Denicen
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September 06, 2011, 09:14:03 PM
 #14

Hawker, what if the most powerful entity in the area (the state) explicitly denies that they own the now vacant land? To whom does the land now belong?
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September 06, 2011, 11:28:48 PM
 #15

I would like to put forth a scenario to be considered by those who advocate strong property rights.

Let's take the Lockean view of property that something becomes property when someone mixes their labor with a natural resource, and after that the owner can use and trade it in whichever way he sees fit.

Now consider a farmer that comes across an unclaimed piece of land. The farmer builds a house on the land, plants crops, digs an irrigation ditch etc. Many years later all of the land around the farmer has been claimed by others, and he comes out with a 20 acre parcel of land (or however much). The farmer now dies in some accidental way. He did not specify any heir that should inherit the land, and he was the only one that worked that piece of land at all. All of the surrounding residents believe that they have as much of a right to his land as everyone else. What is a reasonable way to decide to whom the land belongs?

If they all came in at once and hostility arose on who should take control of the farm, it is in the best interests in all of them to seek arbitration to solve the issue.

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September 06, 2011, 11:50:59 PM
 #16

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockean_proviso

You could go about it multiple ways. The key thing is that no appropriation of the land can leave anyone worse off afterwards. I think auctioning it off, followed by a periodic tax on the location only (not on the house or irrigation) to be divided up between everyone "nearby", would be acceptable from a Lockean perspective. Who exactly gets the revenue and who assesses the land would probably be the hardest details.
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September 07, 2011, 01:23:20 AM
 #17

If there is a field and two people begin to build upon it from both sides, they will meet in the middle. Where would they draw the fence? Most people could agree on such things peacefully but I think that land disputes (They wont be extremely common but will exist I think) can be solved with arbitration.

In some cases someone may acquire a piece of land which occupies a passage and through a court system it may be deemed necessary for the land owner to provide a right of way, especially if the land isn't used for particularly much such as farmland.

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Hawker
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September 07, 2011, 06:24:23 AM
 #18

Hawker, what if the most powerful entity in the area (the state) explicitly denies that they own the now vacant land? To whom does the land now belong?

The idea of law is that it offers peaceful resolution in cases where both sides believe right is on their side and where they would have to otherwise resort to violence.  In the case you describe, there is a probability that more than one person will believe he has a legitimate claim, arbitration won't work and it will come down to whoever can muster the most force. 

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September 07, 2011, 06:55:54 PM
 #19

The state has might.  It doesn't need to be right.

Welcome to 1984.
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September 07, 2011, 07:00:46 PM
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The state has might.  It doesn't need to be right.

Welcome to 1984.

Its a very good book.  Not sure its on topic as Orwell wasn't concerned with property rights.

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