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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15276/teaching-an-online-mises-academy-course-2/

Teaching an Online Mises Academy Course

January 10, 2011 by

The IP course was a pleasure to teach. I was a bit intimidated at first by how to approach it — Should I wear a suit? What if my dogs bark? How much time should I leave for questions? It turned out that none of this mattered. FULL ARTICLE by Stephan Kinsella

{ 20 comments }

Silas Barta January 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

From your account of the course, it doesn’t seem anyone fundamentally disagreed with you, which makes it seem like this course was just to pat each other on the pack, reinforce pre-existing beliefs, and hang out with the group’s celebrities — not that there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s what you really want in signing up for these courses.

Peter Surda January 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Most of the course was factual (historical, explanation of how IP is implemented in the legal system and what current developments are happening). From that perspective it is completely irrelevant whether Stephan personally opposes or condones IP. The only part that IP opponents might consider objectionable was where Stephan said he rejects both the utilitarian and deontological arguments for IP and gave his reasons. Which, of course, are well known and widely published.

You, on the other hand, can’t even decide what arguments for IP you use, and randomly jump between the two main approaches. Often you criticise others for using utilitarianism to oppose IP, and then you use utilitarian arguments yourself to defend IP. You don’t provide a consistent theory of IP, you don’t provide proper definitions, you don’t answer questions. The only thing you can do is post incoherent ramblings.

When I have a bit of time, I’m going to make a flowchart that joins the main assumptions IP proponents are making with the questions they are avoiding (cowards) and this will conclusively prove that regardless of whether they answer the questions yes or no, all the assumptions eventually lead to a self-contradictory position.

Silas Barta January 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Most of the course was factual (historical, explanation of how IP is implemented in the legal system and what current developments are happening). From that perspective it is completely irrelevant whether Stephan personally opposes or condones IP.

Since he discussed it in comparison to physical property, I’m _sure_ he showed alongside that, the (sad) history of land rights as well. Not.

Often you criticise others for using utilitarianism to oppose IP, and then you use utilitarian arguments yourself to defend IP. You don’t provide a consistent theory of IP, you don’t provide proper definitions, you don’t answer questions. The only thing you can do is post incoherent ramblings.

What I criticize is people who use consequentialist justifications for their opposition to IP, and then the _very_moment_ these arguments are shown to be in error or otherwise on shaky foundations, revert to “well consequences don’t matter anyway” argument, and even then, still claim to confont IP on its proponents’ terms.

You don’t defend such people (like Stephan_Kinsella), do you?

When I have a bit of time, I’m going to make a flowchart that joins the main assumptions IP proponents are making with the questions they are avoiding (cowards) and this will conclusively prove that regardless of whether they answer the questions yes or no, all the assumptions eventually lead to a self-contradictory position.

You do that. Might help clarify your thinking on the issues.

Peter Surda January 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Silas,

Since he discussed it in comparison to physical property, I’m _sure_ he showed alongside that, the (sad) history of land rights as well. Not.

The presentation of facts was quite unbiased. I don’t understand what it has to do with physical property.

What I criticize is people who use consequentialist justifications for their opposition to IP, and then the _very_moment_ these arguments are shown to be in error or otherwise on shaky foundations, revert to “well consequences don’t matter anyway” argument, and even then, still claim to confont IP on its proponents’ terms.

That sounds just like what IP proponents do. When I demonstrate they contradict themselves, they just go silent, and later pretend it never happened. Or they start to metaargue, or start chaning mantras, or accuse their opponents of immorality, or other deflective measures.

You don’t defend such people (like Stephan_Kinsella), do you?

Look at your own brethren. Dave Narby (utilitarian broken record), Kerem Tibuk (banned Mr. Natural Reflection), Andras (the chemist afraid of losing his job), Sasha Radeta (can’t handle anyone enjoying a benefit without paying, but makes an exception for fight against pedophilia), Stephen Grossman (the anti-libertarian), Stranger (on a crusade against IP communism) and the lawyers Gene Quinn and Dale Halling (who pretend to argue but in reality only complain about Stephan Kinsella). What a splendid company. Not that any of that matters, of course, I just thought I’d mention it to humour the readers.

Might help clarify your thinking on the issues.

Better have the need to clarify thinking than not thinking at all, right Silas?

Stephan Kinsella January 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Silas, you are a fellow engineer. I think you are a smart guy. You seem decent, and to have a sense of humor. Yet you go on these weird attacks. What in the wordl is wrong w/ me teaching a course? You can listen to the first one in the youtube at the end of the article–see if you think I did what you accused me of. The students seemed to enjoy it.

You are really a broken record on this. for those who were talking on another thread about Silas’s article: we had a mutual friend and he sent it to me via him. A few years ago. Maybe 6. I gave him honest feedback: IIRC it was somewhat anti-IP but he asked MY opinion; he sent it TO ME; so I told him that I thought it was not scholarly enough: lacking footnotes, etc. I don’t recall being brusque or unkind; I gave an opinion I was asked for. apparently, unbenownst to me, this sent Silas into a private rage, and he emerged at the other end of it with a determination to prove IP is, after all, right, and to hound me and pettifog and be a silly gadfly no one takes seriously.

I honestly believe Silas knows enough now about libertarian beliefs, and he is smart enough, that he knows full well IP is nonsense. He gets pleasure out of his little EM schtick, for some reason. He has no positive theory of IP at all; he dodges real questions. this is typical of people advocating a bankrupt intellectual system.

Silas, you’ve turned yourself into a joke. the IP tide has turned. I’ts not my doing. I’m just part of the turn. They are turning because they have directed their attention to it and it’s not too hard to figure it out using basic libertarian principles, if you are just honest and sincere.

You are free to be a minority dissenter clinging to statist encrustations of the past. But if you want to be anything more than a joke you need to have a clear, honest, coherent theory of the IP you pretend to endorse. You cowardly hide behind an amorphous theory. You say you are not for modern IP but you don’t want to abolish it, and you don’t know what you are in favor of. So what are you–nothing but a gadfly. By contrast, I, and others who are seeing the lies and injustice behind state grants of monopoly, have struggled to see the errors of the past in taking this nonsense for granted, and to unpack the implications of this dawning realization. That you can mock and disparage this honest attempt to clarify the underpinnings of justice and libertarian property theory is sad.

A Liberal in Lakeview January 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Silas, let’s get back to your first reply, the one in which you failed to substantiate your condemnation. In fact, at most you reasoned from Kinsella’s quietism about the possibility that there were objections and then leapt straightaway to your remark that, “[f]rom your [Kinsella's] account of the course, it doesn’t seem anyone fundamentally disagreed with you.”

To get to that conclusion you’d need to show not merely that there were no questions or objections of the type you have in mind but also that no student harbored such objection without expressing it. The former would be difficult to do without access to a transcript and recordings of the sessions, and the latter perhaps impossible, unless you are able to read minds, which I doubt you can do.

A Liberal in Lakeview January 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Furthermore, it’s entirely conceivable that a student could “fundamentally disagree” with one or more of Kinsella’s views about copyright, patents, etc. and yet value highly the course on account of its other characteristics. In fact, it could just be that many of the students found the material so unfamiliar that they reserved judgement about Kinsella’s most contentious assertions about intellectual patents, copyrights, economics, etc. until they’ve had some time, perhaps weeks, after the last session to ponder thoroughly the material presented. Your hasty judgement is merely a setup to rationalize your complaints, namely, that

this course was just to pat each other on the pack, reinforce pre-existing beliefs, and hang out with the group’s celebrities.

Of course, you make it entirely clear that you did not yourself take the course and so in the predictable manner of a bigotted heckler you insinuate impure motives to students and instructor alike. And why not heckle? ‘Tis more fun to heckle than to justify your condemnation of something that you have neither examined thoroughly nor have any intention of examining thoroughly.

A Liberal in Lakeview January 10, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Silas, I have a suggestion to help you to overcome the weaknesses of your criticism. In fact, taking the advice which follows could help you to mute the accusations that you are a coward.

Why don’t you just take a few classes with the Mises Academy to find out firsthand if your opinions have any merit whatever? Go and see. It’s only a few bucks ($125 for Kinsella’s next class) and a guy with a mouth and fingertips like yours should have no trouble finding opportunites to quibble and to quarrel with the instructor sufficient to make it worth his time and expenses. Further, you’ll have an opportunity to minimize what are, in your opinion, potentially major weaknesses of the next class, namely, that that there are too few disruptive students and that it will be just a groupthink forum for sycophants and toadies*.

In fact, since you find LvMI’s classes of so little value, why don’t you present LvMI with a proposal** to provide your heckling services during Kinsella’s legal theory class*** in exchange for which the LvMI will compensate you with

(1) enrollment in that class, and
(2) a number of peppercorns not to exceed a total of, say, nine peppercorns?

(You don’t want to come in too low with your first offer thereby leaving yourself little room to maneuver if they demand a lower price.) You would also be required to provide “serious challenges” to claims made by Kinsella during the class, even if those claims are not usually contested when presented in a law school.

Another benefit to you would be that you’d have numerous opportunities to irritate others, esp. the instructor, by showing how much you think that you know and by refusing “to stop exposing” Kinsella’s “weaknesses on” his “IP position”. As suggested already, you’d be able to undermine allegations that you are a coward and a “loathesome little prick”, for unlike watching a YouTube recording, your attendance would put you on the spot either to substantiate your objections to with relevant statements or to shut up and to remain silent long enough to be instructed****.

=========

* “not that there’s anything wrong with that”

** You may wish to include a business case to help the purchasing manager to justify the expense to the LvMI. I presume that an expert in all things like yourself knows what a business case is, not to mention how to prepare a sales proposal, so you need no explanation. If you’ve never negotiated a contract that has characteristics like the one that I’ve suggested that you attempt to form with LvMI–perhaps b/c the sales manager of any business for which you’ve worked learned quickly to keep you far away from his team’s prospects–I would be happy to act as an intermediar. You’d be charged a nominal rate, just $65/hr, to be paid by you in advance of me contacting the LvMI. Charges will accrue in increments of 1/3 hour, and in no case will the cost to you be less than $65.

However, there is no guarantee that you will form a contract with the LvMI, and no refund will be provided in the event that I cannot convince LvMI’s principal(s) that your heckling services ought to be valued in the amount of, say, (1) free attendance for you in Kinsella’s legal theory class, (2) a modest quantity of peppercorns, and (3) “serious challenges” to claims made by Kinsella during the class. If you are concerned that I might be biased toward Kinsella or the LvMI, I would be happy to establish publicly that I am neither a sycophant nor a toadie of the LvMI or Stephan Kinsella.

*** Political Philosophy PP300, Libertarian Legal Theory: Property, Conflict, and Society.

**** Your silence would be regarded as breech of contract by you that obligates you to pay for the class at the price published as of the class’s first session or the close of the registration period, whichever is earlier. You would not, however, be at liberty to refrain from attendance thereafter; any and all other terms and conditions of your agreement with the LvMI would remain in full force and effect.

=========

Do you accept my offer? If so, I will provide instructions for payment. Please hurry. There are only three weeks remaining before the first session.

Silas Barta January 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I’m not paying to reward crap, even and especially if I can afford to do so. But sure, if LvMI admits me to a Stephan_Kinsella class for free, and is willing to take on my challenges, then we have something to talk about. I doubt Stephan_Kinsella would actually be up for that though.

Silas Barta January 10, 2011 at 4:51 pm

1) I’m an engineer, but not your fellow.

2) My disagreement with your ideas has nothing to do with your opinion on the essay I sent you, which was not anti-IP (nor pro-IP), and was not intended to be a complete paper anyway, just a sketch. I’m not going to stop exposing your weaknesses on your IP position, no matter what you do with any essay I’ve sent you.

3) I criticize you because your ideas are seriously in error, and you reveal exactly how each time you post on the topic of IP.

4) I don’t need a separate theory to show why yours is circular, and you’ve conceded enough in that direction already (see that post and the preceding).

5) My defense of IP in no way obligates me to defend current abuses, just as your defense of physical private property rights in no way obligates you to defend current abuses that get classified as “private property”. If a judge rules that farmers can gun down aircraft over their land because of “private property”, that doesn’t automatically mean that by defending “private property”, you’re defending that, and you should extend me the same courtesy.

6) The EM spectrum issue is a vital one, which, as the pre-eminent anti-IP libertarian scholar, you are expected to have reconciled with your IP position. To the extent that you haven’t, your position (of carving out a potential exception for pattern privileges in the EM spectrum) is incoherent, not something you can just put off till later.

7) Your class didn’t require you to answer any serious challenges, and, like your posts here, keeps your thinking on the issue increasingly insular.

Beefcake the Mighty January 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm

What a loathsome little prick you are.

Colin Phillips January 11, 2011 at 1:59 am

I’m not entirely sure such talk is helpful. It’s an assertion as to the character of another. If your assertion is blatantly correct, there is no need to say so, and if it is not, it should not be said.

I understand the frustration of debating with someone who will not ( or cannot) clearly define their position, or tie their objections to any one positions down to justifiable points. Such people inevitably tend towards making assertions about the character of their opponent. Be careful that you do not imitate the behaviour you oppose

Peter Surda January 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Silas,

I criticize you because your ideas are seriously in error, and you reveal exactly how each time you post on the topic of IP.

I presume that’s why you are engaging in self-contradictions and debate-avoidance then?

My defense of IP in no way obligates me to defend current abuses…

But it obliges you to explain why it is not in accordance with your theory. But it’s not. Answering the question would require you to admit you are contradicting yourself.

I don’t need a separate theory to show why yours is circular, and you’ve conceded enough in that direction already (see that post and the preceding).

I disproved your circularity claim and proved you are contradicting yourself.

If a judge rules that farmers can gun down aircraft over their land because of “private property”, that doesn’t automatically mean that by defending “private property”,

There is nothing obviously wrong with a ruling that a farmer can gun down overhead airplanes. Maybe they were making too much noise and waking him up, maybe they were dropping something on his land or threatening to bomb him.

But IP requires doublethink. You need to simultaneously hold the ideas that “misuses” of IP are bad, as well as consistent with your “theory”.

The EM spectrum issue is a vital one

It’s not, and even if it was, I disproved it many times.

Your class didn’t require you to answer any serious challenges…

It was not meant to.

Maybe you can make your own lecture, and then I can grill you and watch you squirm trying to avoid answers.

sweatervest January 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

“I criticize you because your ideas are seriously in error, and you reveal exactly how each time you post on the topic of IP.”

I would love some illumination on this.

“I don’t need a separate theory to show why yours is circular”

Then you fail to reach the very goal to which you aspire. I really think it is ridiculous to poise oneself always on the offensive in argumentation, never willing to offer something but always willing to pick apart what has been offered. Mises actually talked about this. There is no use in being only anti-something. The whole point of criticizing one idea is that you have a better idea in its place.

This quote from you is, as I understand it, a direct recognition that you have excused yourself from the restraints of reason. I am sure you are well aware that your whole case against the anti-IP argument is in the context of a pro-IP position. This is where it derives is meaning. You seem to be trying to mislead by suggesting that you have never tried to defend intellectual property, you only attack the attacks on intellectual property. But your attacks on intellectual property are, of course, in the framework of accepting intellectual property (most blatantly when referring to acts of copying as “stealing”). You are only admitting here that you have not bothered to work out your own understanding of property.

Even if you were really attacking the logic train of the IP argument (you are not) this would not prove your case. That Kinsella’s or anyone else’s refutation of IP is unsound does not prove the soundness of IP. At most it warrants a more careful approach to the problem.

But that is absolutely not what you do. Most of the time you analogize ideas with physical property, transform general theoretical arguments into specific empirical arguments, and then expose your misunderstanding of physical property theory by claiming objective, inter-subjectively ascertainable borders can never be drawn. That they can be is in fact the whole basis of private property theory. You have not pointed out a flaw in the anti-IP logic train, but rather a flaw in your own understanding of physical property rights.

“you’ve conceded enough in that direction already (see that post and the preceding).”

All you did in that link is drive Kinsella into an intentionally convoluted and off-topic discussion which has no bearing on the status of IP. Whether or not the EM spectrum is ownable is an entirely different question that whether ideas are ownable, because the EM spectrum is not an idea, it is a physical object (more accurately, an EM field oscillating in a given frequency band is a physical object). In fact, I myself disagree with Kinsella’s conclusion that the EM spectrum is ownable because I think the EM spectrum cannot be meaningfully homesteaded. But I cannot stress how irrelevant that is to the issue of IP, on which Kinsella and I agree.

“My defense of IP in no way obligates me to defend current abuses”

No one has ever asked you to do this, and you may think we have because you misunderstand our objections. We are not complaining about the state of IP as it is right now, but raising theoretical objections to IP. Pointing out how silly it is what specifically the IP laws in the U.S. are is an *illustration* of the fact that there is no way to objectively lay them out, a claim which is independently argued. No one has claimed to have proven the anti-IP case by pointing out how silly the specific laws that exist are. That silliness does, however, paint a vivid picture of our independently argued theory, that *any* IP law is *necessarily* that silly (arbitrary and bound to cause more conflicts than it resolves). You are misrepresenting our arguments here.

“The EM spectrum issue is a vital one, which, as the pre-eminent anti-IP libertarian scholar, you are expected to have reconciled with your IP position.”

This is patent nonsense. Again, the EM spectrum issue is absolutely unrelated to the issue of intellectual property. Furthermore, how about *you* solve this problem. You tell us whether the EM spectrum can be owned according to your theory. That you can decide so quickly that it is or is not does not speak to your internal consistency, but against it. That Kinsella is reluctant to make any strong claim about the EM spectrum tells me he is employing reason instead of the “emotional litmus test”. I don’t see how you have linked such an obscure, specific empirical problem to the general theoretical problem of IP.

“Your class didn’t require you to answer any serious challenges, and, like your posts here, keeps your thinking on the issue increasingly insular.”

Makes me wonder why you didn’t take up this challenge. I’ll admit I didn’t take this class, but I suspect the “serious challenge” you are looking for is the question that makes Kinsella say, “Oh wait, I’ve been wrong all along”. I am becoming increasingly suspicious of you now that you are attacking Kinsella for spreading his ideas more. You seem to be calling quietly for the help of censorship.

Matthew Swaringen January 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm

“My defense of IP in no way obligates me to defend current abuses” – but it does obligate you to actually explain what you are defending if it’s to have any meaning at all.

Colin Phillips January 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

“1) I’m an engineer, but not your fellow.”
This is not an appropriate tone for the comment boards of LvMI, please try to be more civil. A scholarly register would help you convey your ideas without arousing unnecessary hostility.

“3) I criticize you because your ideas are seriously in error, and you reveal exactly how each time you post on the topic of IP.”
Generally, the accepted practice is to criticise the ideas themselves, rather than the nature of the person promoting them. Try finding the specific point in any one train of thought where you disagree, and try to form a concrete counter-argument to that specific point. This will help create the impression that you care for the integrity of the ideas, rather than appearing engaged in an increasingly desperate vendetta.

“4) I don’t need a separate theory to show why yours is circular, and you’ve conceded enough in that direction already (see that post and the preceding).”
As an engineer, you are probably trained to seek parsimony in your models – if a simplification of your model can achieve the same results, the simpler form is preferred, ceteris paribus. As I understand it, libertarian legal theory is quite elegant in its simplicity, deriving very much from the simple proposition of self-ownership, including the right to property. However, if one assumes that IP exists, most formulations then lead to a contradiction – if one has the right to one’s own property, and the IP rightsholder has a right to any property conforming to a specific pattern, then the owner of any one piece of property cannot be clearly defined, and a large part of the purpose of libertarian legal theory is denied. That is not to say you are wrong, but until you either provide solid, direct, focused criticism of the ideas, or provide some similar justification for your own ideas, the anti-IP position will generally be the “Null Hypothesis” of the modern libertarian. You are not obligated to provide an alternative, no, but you should not expect people to accept your assertions without a more grounded explanation of your ideas.

“5) My defense of IP in no way obligates me to defend current abuses, just as your defense of physical private property rights in no way obligates you to defend current abuses that get classified as “private property”. If a judge rules that farmers can gun down aircraft over their land because of “private property”, that doesn’t automatically mean that by defending “private property”, you’re defending that, and you should extend me the same courtesy.”
You are not expected to justify the current system, but your tone suggests you would not do away with it altogether (which would be the parsimonious anti-IP approach). However, this demonstrates the problem – if you cannot or will not justify the abuses of the current system, but cannot or will not consider the possibility of removing the system, the only alternative remaining is to propose a third possibility. Note that most libertarians do propose alternatives to the state-run system of property dispute management, generally these all stem from the assumption of self-ownership, but it is still a workable solution that does not depend on violent coercion. If you, or anyone else, could do the same for IP, this would help immensely, although again, nobody is forcing you.

“6) The EM spectrum issue is a vital one, which, as the pre-eminent anti-IP libertarian scholar, you are expected to have reconciled with your IP position. To the extent that you haven’t, your position (of carving out a potential exception for pattern privileges in the EM spectrum) is incoherent, not something you can just put off till later.”
Generally speaking, it is expected that if you hold an opponent in a debate to a certain standard of completeness, that you ensure that your own behaviour conforms at least to that same standard. It is not considered proper form to both shirk the responsibility of justifying your own assertions and simultaneously accuse your opponent of not proving the correctness of his position to you. It’s one or the other.

“7) Your class didn’t require you to answer any serious challenges, and, like your posts here, keeps your thinking on the issue increasingly insular.”
Try to restrict your arguments to factual, substantiated claims. This will allow you to escape the impression of being a specialist in the ad hominem attack, and show off a different debating tactic. For once.

Sione January 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Silas

Seriously, you do need to pull your head in. Perhaps you think you are fooling other people but it is clear that you are not.

For some time now it has been more than obvious that you are engaged in exactly the behaviour Dr Kinsella described above. If it is true that what you want to do is defend the notion that IP is property and should be so treated, then you need to actually do it. Quit with the amateur theatrics (’cause you aint very convincing). You need to develop a logical case and present it along with premise, evidence and explanation of your reasoning at each and every step. You need also demonstrate that what you have done at each step is valid and why that is. So far you have not done any of that. None. Nilch. Nada. Zero. For many, many months now, you have engaged in dissembling, demonstrating how quickly you forget what is advantageous for you to forget, consistently ignored the substantive, argued by repetition and insistence, smeared, misrepresented what other people post, emoted, swiftly changed the subject to avoid being pinned down, evaded directly answering specific questions, played concept substitution and so on. It is more than a little obvious. All you achieve with such antics is to make yourself the fool. Best to cease from such degenerate behaviour.

If you really are serious about the pro-IP position it is going to take you a concentrated and consistent effort over an extended period of time to develop and validate a case. Rather than dick around arguing on the blog for the half-arsed heck of it, you’ll need to put in the intellectual effort and make an honest attempt. There is no guarantee that you’ll be rewarded with success either. Still, if you are serious you’ll need to piss off and get on with the research. It will likely take years of invested time to come up with anything. Still, when you have something you might care to publish a paper explaining your discovery. In the meantime it is best if you avoid the worthless repetition of nonsense you’ve been engaged in.

Sione

Jason January 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I received an email from DimDim saying they were purchased by Salesforce.com. My free account is now suspended and can’t be renewed. Existing customers will be served only until the end of their contract, then it’s out the door for them too. Apparently, DimDim will eventually become just a part of Salesforce.com, not an independent “synchronous environment,” paid or free. Does the Mises Academy have something up its sleeve?

DixieFlatline January 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Does the Mises Academy have something up its sleeve?

Dim sum?

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