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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13400/copyright-and-patent-in-benjamin-tuckers-periodical-liberty/

Copyright and Patent in Benjamin Tucker’s Periodical, Liberty

July 28, 2010 by

In Liberty, opponents of intellectual property claimed that copyright and patent contradicted, not only the purpose for which the idea of property evolved, but also the essential characteristics of property. FULL ARTICLE by Wendy McElroy


Kerem Tibuk July 28, 2010 at 8:18 am

“He (Tucker) asked why the concept of property had originated within society in the first place. The logic behind this approach was his belief that concepts are problem-solving devices.”

The same positivist tripe we keep hearing from Kinsella, Tucker, etc.

I can not comprehend, how people who call themselves libertarians cant see what this approach will eventually take them.

Property is not an invention of men to better society, whether establishing it as some problem solving device, or a tool to make a happy society, or to deal with scarce or rivalrous resources in a civilized manner.

This positivism fails to realize, the thing they try to define cause more definition problems themselves.

What problems are solved and according to what criteria? What do you mean by a happy society? What does it mean by resolving in a civilized manner?

Are these goals really objective reference points?

Why cant we say, “Slavery originated in society as a problem solving device” and justify slavery? We can, if we define “the problem” as some people having to produce themselves instead of living off of some other human, can we not?

Cant you see that the problem with positivism is trying to find rules and laws and concepts to get close to a state, without any objective reference point or definition?

Natural rights theorist like Spencer and Rothbard on the other hand, know those reference points are themselves the result of nature of things, the reality. You can not pick some undefined goal out of the air and twist reality to your will.

If there is a concept such as property that is because human nature requires it.

Old Mexican July 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Re: Kerem Tibuk,

The same positivist tripe we keep hearing from Kinsella, Tucker, etc.

Kinsella’s and Tucker’s arguments are not positivist.

If there is a concept such as property that is because human nature requires it.

You’re begging the question.

mpolzkill July 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm

If there’s such a thing as live human sacrifice, it’s because human nature requires it.

Russ July 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Maybe there is such a thing a government, because human nature requires it?

Darcy July 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm

The question will always be, why can’t there be more than one government?

Why did the division of power stop at three branches?

Kerem Tibuk July 29, 2010 at 4:09 am

The point I am trying to make is this.

There is two ways to approach this property issue.

One way is the way of Benjamin Tucker, Hoppe and eventually Kinsella’s. We can call this inductive approach. They look at the concept of property from the perspective of some goal, or rather a state of society. They use different terms to define this state of society but usually they mean “conflict free” or “peaceful”. They claim, since scarce or rivalrous resources can cause genuine? or natural? conflicts, there has to be a system of private property to sort this out. According to this view, property is social phenomenon and thus it arises only in society.

The other way is Locke’s, Spencer’s and Rothbard’s way. They are called natural right libertarians and their perspective is more deductive. They analyze the property issue from the individuals perspective and human nature. They look at private property an necessary extension of an individual just as his arm is an extension of him. This is evident in the concept of self ownership. In the above approach there is no place for concept of self ownership since property doesn’t arise from the self, but others. You can notice from the writings of Hoppe and Kinsella. They can not even make sense of the concept. Thus according to this perspective property is not a social issue at all and it arises from the individual himself and then extends to society. Whatever you define a property right to be and individual has it. The only thing that changes in society is the possibility of losing the right, and this possibility can not define the right itself.

There are many more differences if you go to detail but the most significant issue I think is, the inductive approach is epistemologically problematic.

To use the inductive perspective of property, one must very clearly define the state of society desired.

Many concepts are being used, but whether people use them are aware of it or not, they all necessarily depend on the fundamental assumptions of the natural rights theorists thus inductive arguments can not escape the fate of being circular.

For example the state that is desired is a “conflict free”, “peaceful” or even “problem free” society.

But how can you define this state?

“Conflict free state” is circular. Because for there to be a possibility of conflict there has to be to parties who both think they have a right to the cause of the conflict which is again about property rights. So you have to define property before you can use the concept of “conflict”, not before like inductive approach try to do.

“Peaceful state” requires the opposite concept of aggression but definition of aggression requires some sort of property. Thus again it is circular because to define a peaceful or rather an aggression free state you first have to define property.

Peter Surda July 29, 2010 at 6:33 am

One way … the other way

You seem to unduly dismiss the option that both of these are incorrect. Also, you ignore the contradictions in your own interpretation.

Zorg July 31, 2010 at 11:48 pm

“This is evident in the concept of self ownership. In the above approach there is no place for concept of self ownership since property doesn’t arise from the self, but others. You can notice from the writings of Hoppe and Kinsella”

There is no place for the concept of self-ownership in Hoppe
and Kinsella? You are grossly mistaken. Start over.

If you cannot accurately describe the substance of their
arguments, then it is pointless for you to engage in criticism.

You must understand before you criticize.

Alpheus March 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

“Why cant we say, “Slavery originated in society as a problem solving device” and justify slavery?”

What’s wrong with looking at slavery as a problem-solving device? And why would doing so justify slavery?

I’m not willing to look at slavery as a problem-solving device at this time, but it would seem to be a very good exercise to do. Once we do so, we could ask ourselves questions like “does it solve problems we wish to be solved?” or “sure slavery solves the problem at hand–but is it the best solution?” or even “is the problem being solved a problem that moral people should address?”

I add the last question, because “Subjugating conquered peoples so that they are less able to rebel” is a problem that slavery is well-suited to solve–but it isn’t one that individuals morally ought to be solving.

In a similar vein, Tucker looked at the problem that private property is meant to solve, sees that it’s morally sound problem to solve, and that property solves the problem. I don’t see how he goes wrong in following that line of logic.

Evan Foreman July 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

There is gross confusion in this article. Ideas are as free as the wind and are NOT copyrightable.
It is the EXPRESSION of ideas which are copyrightable. A story can be told many ways. But each way it is told is copyrightable, subject to provisions of copyright law.

Darcy July 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Don’t bother. The confusion between ideas and information is necessary to obfuscate the fact that information is materially scarce and can be property.

Curt Howland July 28, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Tell that to the author of _The Wind Done Gone_.

So much for “A story can be told many ways”.

Capt Mike July 28, 2010 at 8:10 pm

What happened to her? I thought parody was protected?

Zorg July 31, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Why should parody be protected when it copies and makes
use of the unique, sacred information and expression of the
copyright holder who has a natural right as against all others for
all time to exclude them from such use of the product of his
mind, and which causes the sun to shine and food to grow and
the little birdies to chirp so happily in the dewy meadow?

(I hereby copyright “the little birdies to chirp so happily in
the dewy meadow”. Don’t test me now, I mean it!)

You see, any admission of limitation on this so-called right is
an admission that it is no right at all. I was glad that the
article mentioned that point because it’s one I always make.
It’s a simple point which shows the absolute absurdity of
the claim being made.

The article said those early IPers would not answer that question
regarding limitations on patent and copyright in law. That’s
because it is unanswerable in any way that makes logical sense.

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