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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/18485/patent-trolls-cost-the-economy-half-a-trillion-dollars-since-1990/

Patent Trolls Cost The Economy Half A Trillion Dollars since 1990

September 20, 2011 by

Obama's Patent Reform: Webinar

I have previously estimated that the patent system imposes at least $42 billion in net loss to the economy annually (Costs of the Patent System Revisited). As Mike Masnick notes in his Techdirt post Patent Trolls Cost The Economy Half A Trillion Dollars, a stunning new study by James Bessen, Michael Meurer, and Jennifer Ford, The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls, concludes that companies sued by patent trolls have lost $500 billion from 1990 to 2010, with increasing annual costs of late, on the order of $80 billion per year over the last four years. It’s not clear how much of this cost would overlap with my conservative $42 billion annual estimate, but obviously not all of it can, as the sum is greater; and it does not even address non-”troll” wealth-destroying patent battles such as the smartphone wars between Microsoft, Google, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, RIM, and others.

My $42 billion estimate was intended to be conservative. I’d venture that even an estimate of $100 billion a year of net loss in the US economy alone due solely to patents is still conservative. That’s at least a trillion dollars of net loss in innovation and economic productivity every decade, people. A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you’re talking serious money.

{ 228 comments }

John P. September 20, 2011 at 11:02 am

Shoot. I can barely conceive what it would be like to have a billion dollars, let alone a trillion dollars.

It boggles the mind!

Oklahoma Libertarian September 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Plus the unquantifiable loss of innovations that could have been.

Joseph Friedlander September 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The worst part is that this is not a random trillion dollars rent-extracted out of the whole economy including the unproductive parts, but by definition a trillion taken out of tech venture capital (internally in big companies or externally among small tech ventures/venture capitalists) that will not be available to finance better products and services. It’s like the Broken Window fallacy– we all know how much Intel and Google have improved our lives. We see them– but not the three or four times more innovative companies that were throttled by the innovation obstacle course set up by the government/legal/connected rentseeker complex. Where is your flying car? It was taxed, regulated and rent-extracted away from your future.

Vake September 20, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Precisely correct. It is unfortunate that so much of the state’s costs lie in the domain of “the unseen.” We will never know the wondrous technologies that could have existed, at this very moment, if the rent-seekers had not stolen them from us.

Ryan September 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Mr Kinsella,
I ask this not out of criticism: what would, say the pharmaceutical markets or smart phone markets look like without patents? Do you also believe that all parents should be abolished?

John P. September 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm

You cannot possibly even begin to conceive of a present that could have been. Let’s instead focus on the question of should patents be abolished and let’s also change the question to what the pharmaceutical market does with non-patent protected items.

First question, should patents be abolished? Yes.

Second question, what do the pharmaceutical markets do with non-patent protected items? Some of the easiest medication to consider is the over the counter kind. For instance, Tylenol. How often, when you reach for some pain relief, do you reach for the name brand or the off brand? If producing the name brand in the face of cheaper competitors wasn’t profitable, they wouldn’t keep producing said item. But amazingly enough, you can buy the name brand with the awesome markup that comes with it. Companies are still profitable and consumers win.
In fact, this same event can be seen in off brand produce. I know for a fact that Del Monte Foods manufactures Target and Wal-Mart brand canned vegetables. You can buy the off brand cheaper than the name brand (if it isn’t on sale.) Who wins from this? Obviously Del Monte. But also the consumer, you can buy the non-name brand for cheaper and the same quality. Now the question would be, how often is this the case with pharmaceuticals? I don’t have facts or data on it, but maybe someone does.

Ohhh Henry September 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

When a patent troll shakes down a company whose product is not patented then the full amount awarded to the trolls can be considered a theft because they are taking money out of a more or less free market.

But when a company has a patent, i.e. a monopoly on a particular invention or technology, they tend to overcharge for that product. Part of what the patent trolls extort from them could be considered the theft of what was already stolen money.

Probably there is almost no such thing as a patent troll shaking down a company which has no patents on its products and whose prices are therefore quite free of monopolistic government interference … so it becomes as difficult to determine the cost of patent trolling as it is to determine the cost to the economy of patents themselves.

Andras September 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Exactly!

Daniel September 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Two wrongs don’t make a right, dude

Nuke Gray September 20, 2011 at 10:06 pm

But two wrongs can cancel each other out, dud. This might leave good, or right, to triumph. In ‘The Lord of the Rings’, the growing selfishness of Frodo, and the habitual selfishness of Golum, clash, which ends up with the ring being destroyed, and this allows good to triumph. Whilst this is a story, it is popular because it seems plausible.

Eric Evans September 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm

“But two wrongs can cancel each other out, dud.”

And for the consumer it’s nothing but a bigger loss than before, d00d.

Nuke Gray September 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

But two wrongs can cancel each other out, leaving you where you were!

Dale B. Halling September 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Interesting, did they account for the lost revenue and profits of the companies that created the inventions, when they were stolen?

This study’s methodology can be compared to the losses that resulted to a criminal enterprise when they were charged with a crime. It ignores the cost to the owner’s of the property and just adds up the cost to the criminal enterprise because of prosecution.

Giovanni P September 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm

It’s just a sum, It didn’t mean to be a measure of wealth. Money is not wealth, money is just paper pictures of dead guys.

DixieFlatline September 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Dale, your blog is hilarious. Flat earthing for the 21st century!

Stephan Kinsella September 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I don’t know, why don’t you read it yourself? But then, you have no interest in anything that shows the patent system is corrupt–after all it pays your salary. Right?

Wildberry September 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm

And yours. What is your point, only one side of this argument can have good guys?

Oztrian September 21, 2011 at 6:30 am

Well, what’s yours, that… arguing that the patent system is corrupt…. so that it will be abolished and …. he gains because…… it pays his wages and when it’s gone … ?

Seriously, what is your point?

JFF September 21, 2011 at 9:05 am

His point is that Steph is not only wrong, but a hypocrite, liar, intellectually and logically lazy and disorganized, and likes killing kittens.

Andras September 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

Well, he just can not loose as he is milking both extremes of the IP field.
I think that is a good description of hypocrisy.
On the other hand, he is always right, or wrong depending on the vantage point.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

Andras, this is nonsense. I have dealt with these hypocrisy charges elsewhere: http://c4sif.org/2011/04/are-anti-ip-patent-attorneys-hypocrites/ ; http://c4sif.org/2010/12/patent-lawyers-who-don%E2%80%99t-toe-the-line-should-be-punished/ ; http://c4sif.org/2010/12/is-it-so-crazy-for-a-patent-attorney-to-think-patents-harm-innovation/

Of course you would expect some to disagree with patents, and some of them may be patent lawyers. I guess you would prefer all the patent-opponents to be non-practitioners so that they don’t know the law as well. Assume the system is unjust: who would you expect to be able to see this, if not someone on the inside? And as for milking it: do you accuse oncologists of being in favor of cancer? After all they make money because there is cancer. What about tax lawyers and tax accountants? Must they all be in favor of the IRS and income tax, to avoid hypocrisy? After all, without income tax they would not have a job.

This is pathetic smearing.

Wildberry September 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

No Stephan,

You were the one who raised the issue as a means to discredit a blogger, when as Andras points out, and I have elsewhere, you play both sides of the issue. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

You are not dissimilar to someone who trades in the slave market by day, and promotes its abolishment for politcal gain at night. At the least, it raises questions, but you are the one who raised them. It is either a valid question in both cases, or it is equally irrelevant.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Wildberry: You were the one who raised the issue as a means to discredit a blogger, when as Andras points out, and I have elsewhere, you play both sides of the issue. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

You are not dissimilar to someone who trades in the slave market by day, and promotes its abolishment for politcal gain at night. At the least, it raises questions, but you are the one who raised them. It is either a valid question in both cases, or it is equally irrelevant.

Wrong. It is reasonable to ask if someone who has a financial interest in perpetuating a system is sincere or biased. If I urge the abolition of a system that I earn money from, that actually makes it less likely that I am biased or insincere. It is against my interest to oppose patents–this is the reason for the rule in evidence known as a “statement against interest.”

As for analogizing me to a slave-trader: you are so confused. First, the analogy would hold only if you assume patents are evil, as slavery was. That is my view, not yours. Second, I do not participate in the aggressive enforcement of patents, so it is not analogous anyway. I help advise about how to navigate around them. It’s funny how you guys are so desperate to discredit someone who knows a bit about the patent system from objecting to it. It’s like telling a black person they can’t object to affirmative action, after all they must have benefitted from it. And I guess all oncologists love the fact that there’s cancer.

Wildberry September 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm

@ Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Wrong. It is reasonable to ask if someone who has a financial interest in perpetuating a system is sincere or biased.

It is likewise reasonable to ask if someone who earns his living by participating is a system is sincere in advocating its complete annihilation. If you would do “something else” if that event occurs, why not do it now? Hypocrisy does not require sincerity or bias, just self interest and a willingness to play both sides.

I am aware of the evidence rule, but are you sure it applies here? I think you are giving yourself undue credit. You are implying that your statements against IP should be afforded more credibility than someone who is for IP, when you both are professionals in the field? If you wish to imply dishonorable motives on the advocate, how are we to know you don’t have your own motives for similar conduct? How convenient for you; you systematically discredit all lawyers in the field who support the system you both work within. Sorry, overruled. A lawyer who advocates a position contrary to yours is not automatically discredited because you say so. And likewise, someone who apparently speaks against his self interest is not automatically believed without question. In evidence, it is a factor that goes to likelihood of truthfulness, given the facts and circumstance. The law school example, as you know, is the injured person who says “I didn’t mean to run the light.” It might be admitted as evidence despite the hearsay rule, but the weight and credibility is still a finding of fact, right? But I have to say, that was a pretty good bluff.

You are the one who played this card. You are like someone who plays the race card as a general purpose weapon against all white people. Not that I expect you to acknowledge anything I have to offer here, but naturally you missed (or ignored) my point.

I am not analogizing you to a slave trader; I am analogizing you to a hypocrite. Pick your own analogy if you don’t like that one.

So yes, black people can oppose affirmative action, white people can play the race card , and lawyers who work in the IP sytem can come down on either side of the issue, unless they are being hypirocritcal. Then their credibility comes into question.

Beware of the person who thinks everyone a theif; he is likely to steal.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Wildmoron:

It is likewise reasonable to ask if someone who earns his living by participating is a system is sincere in advocating its complete annihilation.

Why? Do you question the “sincerity” of oncologists who want to abolish cancer, or libertarian tax lawyers who want to abolish drug laws? What about libertarian lawyers who defend victims of the drug war, while opposing drug criminalization by the state you love?

If you would do “something else” if that event occurs, why not do it now?

Relevance?

Hypocrisy does not require sincerity or bias, just self interest and a willingness to play both sides.

Glad you are showing your hand by trying to make it about “me,” since I never have–shows how weak and pathetic and dishonest you are.

I am aware of the evidence rule, but are you sure it applies here?

I doubt you are, unless you are admitting you are a lawyer, but nyms never admit their identity.

As for applying here–no, it does not “apply” here, whatever that means; I was pointing out that there is a reason the rules of evidence permit statements against interest as an exception to the hearsay rule http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_against_interest

I think you are giving yourself undue credit. You are implying that your statements against IP should be afforded more credibility than someone who is for IP, when you both are professionals in the field?

I think that lawyers have NO extra “credibility” WHATSOEVER when it comes to policy; and in fact they have less, when it comes to policy that butters their bread. Lawyers preen like peacocks and pretend to be policy experts when most of them are half-cocked shysters, and most of the rest at best know their technical legal area of positive law but have no more knowledge about waht law should be than does an average illiterate grandma. In fact, less. The only thing stupider than an average lawyer is an average engineer.

Beware of the person who thinks everyone a theif; he is likely to steal.

You, nymberry, are the advocate of theft. That is why you gyrate and squirm to avoid it.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

It seems to me logically possible even for a biased, self-interested patent attorney to argue for patents, but I have yet to hear one do so. Halling is obviously a shill. He trots out pseudo-philosophical bs for patents, incoherent nonsense. Yet another lawyer getting in over his head. He has no coherent argument for rights or property, or even a coherent understanding of property or economics, as his many comments make clear; he is just dabbling and throwing around words he’s heard others use. He certainly has no coherent or honest argument for patents.

Above he seeks to throw water on the recent Bessen study. But all this does is avoid his own burden of proof. Forget trolls: I’ve estimated patents cost the economy at least $40B a year. I’ve given reasons for this. But forget that. No one can deny the patent system imposes costs on the economy. I doubt even Halling would be daft and dishonest enough to deny this. So he and other utilitarians argue that this cost is worth paying: that the patent system gives rise to so much more innovative wealth that it dwarfs the puny cost of the patent system. That is their/your implicit argument. This was the Founders’ hunch. Yet the founders didn’t pretend they could prove this empirically. In the two centuries since, economists have tried to prove this, but keep coming up blank, or actually conclude, like Bessen et al. have, that patents impose a net cost: that is, the costs of the patent system outweigh any possible benefits it has.

So instead of Halling trying to find flaws in the latest study whose outcome he doesnt like, why doesn’t he bear his burden of proof? Prove that patents generate more wealth than they cost. What is the cost? What is the gain? What is the net? Tell us the numbers! All he can say in response is to sputter that the US economy rose a lot since 1790. This is the elementary mistake of confusing correlation with causation. It is not an argument at all. The mistake is so elementary that it is hard to believe that it is not intentional. But it could be that Halling is not dishonest in making this argument, but just stupid–he is just an engineer with a law degree, after all.

Andras September 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

Any game with numbers here is just GIGO.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

It is you guys who argue in favor of the patent system based on the argument that it generates net gains. If you can’t sum up utility, that just makes it impossible for you to carry your burden.

Wildberry September 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Stephan,

Your premise is stupid. No one disputes that the patent system comes at a cost. But even if the costs are higher than the benefits (as if there is any method to actually prove that; you don’t have a methodology either), apparently they are not high enough to destroy the utility of patents to patent holders. Otherwise, who would bother to try to obtain one?

If you instead are making some claim to aggregate cost/benefit, how do you go about demonstrating that? How do you aggregate the “total social cost” and the “total social benefit” of the patent system? Your use of that impossibility as a weapon is not persuasive. There is no “burden” of proof. There is no proof, or even a reliable source of basic data. Even if you could somehow calculate the total cost of patents, how would you calculate the benefits? Where would you begin your baseline?

This is utter nonsense.

The only reasonable thing to be said is based on the external economy argument. Without some form of IP rights, producers would be producing for external economies. The rest should follow logically. It is a praxeological problem.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm

No one disputes that the patent system comes at a cost. But even if the costs are higher than the benefits (as if there is any method to actually prove that; you don’t have a methodology either

Yes, but then I don’t seek to justify the use of state aggression based on incoherent economic methodologies, no offense you.

), apparently they are not high enough to destroy the utility of patents to patent holders. Otherwise, who would bother to try to obtain one?

What is the relevance of this, you idiot? Of course patents are of value to patentees.

If you instead are making some claim to aggregate cost/benefit, how do you go about demonstrating that?

Good question!

How do you aggregate the “total social cost” and the “total social benefit” of the patent system? Your use of that impossibility as a weapon is not persuasive. There is no “burden” of proof. There is no proof, or even a reliable source of basic data. Even if you could somehow calculate the total cost of patents, how would you calculate the benefits? Where would you begin your baseline?

you tell me. it is your ilk who justify it based on these “arguments”. You really are an intellectual rube, aren’t you?

Peter Surda September 22, 2011 at 1:46 am

Wildberry,

No one disputes that the patent system comes at a cost.

Of course, you do. You claim that because IP reassigns some rights from copiers to authors, it’s beneficial, while ignoring the cost side of the redistributive effect both on interpersonal (why should more authors and less copiers be an improvement) and intrapersonal (why for any single author the benefits outweigh the costs) level.

If you instead are making some claim to aggregate cost/benefit, how do you go about demonstrating that?

Stephan, and me, are only making the argument that due to its redistributive fashion, the analysis of costs is a necessary component of the utilitarian argument. We are not making the claim that the utilitarian argument is correct, but if it was, it would need to compare the costs and gains. You make the utilitarian argument, but fail to address the costs. You hereby refuted yourself.

Without some form of IP rights, producers would be producing for external economies.

And with IP rights, they are still producing for external economies. Wait, that sounds familiar, didn’t I say that before? Right, you are not actually arguing, sorry I forgot.

In order for a right that addresses externalities to provide a Pareto-improvement, it is necessary either that the right is unassigned or unclear before (see Roy Cordato on Externalities). That is not the case with IP, as I explained many times, because it is purely a redistributive measure, and there is no reason why it should improve clarity (your own inability to provide a coherent definition of IP is just another nail in the coffin). Those two conditions being absent, it does not follow that IP creates a Pareto-improvement.

The rest should follow logically.

Indeed, yet the pro-IP-fanatics like you fail at elementary logic.

Boooriiiing.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 1:21 am

did they account for the lost revenue and profits of the companies that created the inventions, when they were stolen?

Did you assume your conclusion when you called this “stealing”?

It’s stealing for me to transform my own property into something more valuable?

Thomas Smith September 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm

In a patent-free world, how do you calculate or estimate the cost to the economy of inventions that aren’t developed because they can’t be patented and as such aren’t deemed profitable?

Put the other way, how do you measure the benefits to the economy in terms of things that have been invented which are here with us only because patents make them profitable?

Andras September 20, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Thomas,
There would be no way. As Mises (the von, not the .org) said, in the absence of patents, inventors, for the most part, would work for external economies, thus, by definition, all aspects under those conditions are out of the reach of economic calculations. Following this line there could not be any cooperation (in a pre-calculated way) either.
That is Dead-End!

Nuke Gray September 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm

In fact, before patents came along, people were obliged to talk about their new idea, or show it off, and hope that others would give them money for the idea. This was the early British experience- a kind of ‘honour’ system. Then patents came along. Each patent had to be passed by a special act of Parliament. Then the Americans invented the modern patent system, and inventors started emigrating to America. Britain had to change it’s patent system, or it would have lost most of it’s inventions and inventors.
Conversely, inventors in Europe preferred the British patent scheme, and emigrated there because of it- i.e. Marconi developed in Britain, not his native Italy. So patents have been retained because they work, and attract inventors to your country.
So if America repealed Intellectual property, or the President simply instructed the Patents office to not pursue such cases, then good inventors would flee America for lands that have patent laws, and enforce them.

Gil September 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Really? I read others hide in their ideas in code or deliberately put errors into their blueprints.

Wildberry September 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm

One of the earliest patent laws was in Vienna in the 1400′s. It was simple. The government issued a reward for anyone who invented a socially useful device. The reward was a limited monopoly, 10 years I think. Vienna became the center of innovation in the western world during that time. I think there is likely some correlation.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Glad you now admit patents are monopolies.

And interesting you think patent law can be or ought to be “simple”. But why?

Glad you “think” there is “likely” some correlation. What else do you “think”?

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 1:19 am

I think there is likely some correlation

Amazing. Well, you just established correlation. What you are trying to derive is causation from correlation, and apparently that is what IP proponents do.

So you have a sample of 1? That’s very impressive. Soviet Russia was the leader in oil production for many years, so obviously communism works better than capitalism. Thank you and good night.

Oztrian September 21, 2011 at 7:03 am

“So if America repealed Intellectual property, or the President simply instructed the Patents office to not pursue such cases, then good inventors would flee America for lands that have patent laws, and enforce them.”

Really? So why does the US spend so much effort trying to get other nations to pass and enforce IP laws?
Read Wendy McElroy today for good reasons to flee America.

Wildberry September 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Oztrian,

both your point and Wendy’s article are nonsense. Like Kinsella, she loves the parade of horrors about how something is being misused or abused by agents of the government, but makes no comment on the underlying social/economic dilemmas in play.

If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. But be my guest, please flee.

Nuke Gray September 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Ever heard of pirates? Inventors go to countries with strong IP laws- copycats try to live off the work of others.

Dale B. Halling September 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Of course not. Evidence is irrelevant to these crusaders. It is irrelevant that the Industrial Revolution started where the first patent systems were created. It is irrelevant that the richest countries have the strongest patent laws. It is irrelevant that scarcity does not explain how property rights come to exist or to show that there is no reason for patents. It is irrelevant that the creation, dissemination, and production of inventions are subject to inventions. Logic, reason, and evidence are irrelevant to this group of anti-patent activists. They are much like the socialists of old who ignored the incredible human suffering and death that happened wherever socialist/statist policies were tried.

nate-m September 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Of course not. Evidence is irrelevant to these crusaders

No, evidence is irrelevant to people in your position. Every pro-patent arguer seems to think that just regurgitating what they feel is the status quo without any consideration that they may actually have to back up their claims with actual evidence or logic is a valid basis for a good argument for their position.

Industrial Revolution started where the first patent systems were created.

You are confusing coincidence with correlation. Such ‘logic’ breaks down with even cursory examination of historical facts.

For example; Advances in textile production were one of the earliest solid examples of the industrial revolution. If you examine the roll of patents in early textile advances you’d quickly realize that it was a comedy of errors. People inventing one thing after another, attempting to patent it years after the fact once they realized they actually had something useful. These devices for spinning yarn or manufacturing textiles were either widely copied before the patents were ever created (then the inventors that pursued patents went bankrupt) or progress went into a stalemate until the patents expired, quickly followed by a explosion in productivity as the technology became copied widely and became the basis for even further advances as competitive forces ramped up.

Another example far later on…
You can examine patents and their role in early aviation. The USA had the Wright brothers. They developed the first airplanes and then patented their inventions. Wing warping advances and such. The Wright brothers then drove their company into the ground trying to capitalize on their ‘Intellectual Property’. The companies that the Wrights tried to sue (Curtiss, for example) were the ones that actually were responsible for developing and refining the airplane until it became a useful tool.

Meanwhile aviation flourished in Europe, where such patents were invalid… and the USA very quickly lost it’s lead while all major innovations for years were developed first abroad.

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

The Wrights’ preoccupation with the legal issue hindered their development of new aircraft designs, and by 1911 Wright aircraft were inferior to those made by other firms in Europe.[10] Indeed, aviation development in the US was suppressed to such an extent that when the U.S. entered World War I no acceptable American-designed aircraft were available, and the U.S. forces were compelled to use French machines.

..
..

. It is irrelevant that scarcity does not explain how property rights come to exist

FFS man…. if all things were abundant without end then what would the purpose behind property rights be? Why would anybody care in the first place?

Peter Surda September 22, 2011 at 1:13 am

Dale,

Logic, reason, and evidence are irrelevant to this group of anti-patent activists.

On the contrary, it’s the pro-IP-ers that are immune to reason. They produce non-sequiturs, vague and self-contradictory statements and in general just make up stuff. And once it turns out that they can’t defend or even explain their position argumentatively, they switch to ad hominems and run away from the debate. When I debated with you two years ago on your blog here: http://hallingblog.com/levine-boldrin-argue-the-u-s-should-end-the-patent-system/ , you did exactly that, you avoided confronting my arguments. Your approach has not improved since.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 10:01 am

how is this supposed to be an argument for the state grant of monopoly privileges?

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 10:04 am

Halling:

Of course not. Evidence is irrelevant to these crusaders.

What is it: empirical, or principles and rights? Sometimes you act as if it is the latter, but now you rely on “evidence” as the standard, i.e. empiricism. Where is your evidence, Halling? There is no evidence, and you know it. You and your fellow neo-mercantilists simply assume it, but never even attempt to prove it.

It is irrelevant that the Industrial Revolution started where the first patent systems were created. It is irrelevant that the richest countries have the strongest patent laws.

And the biggest bombs! Hey, maybe that’s why we are rich: because we committed genocide against the Plains Indians, burnt Atlanta, and nuked Hiroshima!

It is irrelevant that scarcity does not explain how property rights come to exist or to show that there is no reason for patents. It is irrelevant that the creation, dissemination, and production of inventions are subject to inventions. Logic, reason, and evidence are irrelevant to this group of anti-patent activists. They are much like the socialists of old who ignored the incredible human suffering and death that happened wherever socialist/statist policies were tried.

Scarcity is the root of property, yet you want to set up property rights in non-scarce things. As for suffering and death: the patent system causes both, and impoverishes us to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year. YEt you guys don’t care. After all, you passed the patent bar and it butters your bread.

Greg September 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm

And if inventors did leave America, so what? It’s a global economy. We’d get their inventions anyway. Without monopoly granted to one person or business, dozens of people or businesses would work to improve on the original invention.

Nuke Gray September 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm

But the better inventors would be in other lands, and those lands would get the credit- and the business! And the professional full-time inventor is more likely to make the major break-throughs that enliven the countries where he lives. (And inventors are still mainly men, I notice.)

Peter Surda September 21, 2011 at 1:49 am

Andras,

externalities are an omnipresent phenomenon. There is no reason why they should behave differently with “creators of IP” than with any other human activity whatsoever.

Andras September 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

From the vantage point of the individual, among them the inventor, you are right.
However, from the viewpoint of economics, you are absolutely wrong.
Being outside of the realm of economics changes everything from this second view.
Economics can not even conceptualize it, let alone calculate it. And without these, there is no cooperation.

nate-m September 21, 2011 at 10:33 am

None of that made any sense at all.

Peter Surda September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

Andras,

From the vantage point of the individual, among them the inventor, you are right. However, from the viewpoint of economics, you are absolutely wrong.

So show me an example of a “viewpoint of economics” that does not include a viewpoint of any individual.

Being outside of the realm of economics changes everything from this second view.

This could only be true if IP affected situations which do not include physical property. Which, if it was the case, would be trivial to demonstrate. But apparently a simple logical problem presents an insurmountable obstacle for IP proponents because the cognitive dissonance kicks in.

Economics can not even conceptualize it, let alone calculate it.

I can only repeat that IP is a redistributive measure. It does not give anyone the ability to conceptualise or calculate. Due to the contradictions and vagueness of the proponents thereof, if anything, IP only makes rights less clear and calculation more difficult.

Andras September 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Why do you have this obsession with the physical? Is it Freudian?
We don’t talk solely about IP. Without IP, particularly patents, the whole invention process, largely, is an externality, outside of the realm of economics.
You should read more Mises, the von not the .org!

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Andras, why the obsession with “physical”? I don’t know–when your beloved socialist IP laws are en…FORCEd, are they enforced against physical property, with physical state force?

Andras September 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm

What about your beloved socialist “property” laws enforced against centuries of property laws with physical force? Why have you singled IP out?
Where is your crusade against similar cases in the realm of physical property? Obama and his gang did much bigger damage on them. Why is this obsession with the physical? Is it just because it fits your agenda?
Well you ignore all intellectual property rights of the inventors. I don’t. And fortunately it is still generally respected although it is deteriorating with all other property rights.
You shifted the debate from the validity of IP to your conclusion of total invalidity, your agenda. You keep ignoring all arguments against your agenda, even that of the namesake’s of your website and overwhelming historical evidences.
My feeling is you need this parade of horrors to keep your agenda alive. It allows for being stuck in debating your extremist ideas instead of a discussion about how to move forward and streamline the system.

Matthew Swaringen September 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

What about your beloved socialist “property” laws enforced against centuries of property laws with physical force? Why have you singled IP out?

I think this has been explained several times by several people now. Obviously you didn’t agree with the explanation, but to pretend that no one has answered these questions is daft.

IP is singled out for many different reasons, both rooted in the philosophy of natural rights (it’s inherently contradictory with physical property rights if you believe in those), and even in utilitarianism. It’s a restriction of the many to service the few, and it’s unclear what benefit actually arises out of it, those who support it the most don’t even attempt to meet the burden of proof that it actually is as beneficial as they claim.

Is it just because it fits your agenda?

It fits the agenda of just about anyone who cares about personal freedom more than state privilege.. .why is this bad?

Well you ignore all intellectual property rights of the inventors.

This asserts the rights exist based on the assertion itself. If you have another basis for it then by all means make your case… please come up with a legitimate logical basis for IP that isn’t contradictory to real physical property or supply the utilitarian cost/benefit test that proves it works.

You keep ignoring all arguments against your agenda

Ignoring? I’d venture that Stephan posts more responses to those who comment on his articles than just about anyone…

My feeling is you need this parade of horrors to keep your agenda alive.

Yes, he needs to get the arguments out there so that people will come to view the subject the way he views it.. which is exactly no different than what you attempt to do… You have your own agenda also…

It allows for being stuck in debating your extremist ideas instead of a discussion about how to move forward and streamline the system.

This asserts that
1) “extreme” views must be wrong.
2) “streamlining” the system is the correct thing to do.

And I don’t think you have even come remotely close to providing either of those assertions.

Peter Surda September 22, 2011 at 1:25 am

Andras,

Why do you have this obsession with the physical? Is it Freudian?

Why do you claim that I’m obsessed? I’m merely pointing out logical connections. If you object to it, provide a counterargument. Oh wait, I forgot, argumentation is not a strong point of pro-IP-ers, they prefer logical fallacies such as ad hominems.

I could turn it around and claim that you are obsessed with things you imagine. You’re like the fanatic who attack other people (i.e. violates their property rights) for blasphemy (i.e. imaginary concepts).

Without IP, particularly patents, the whole invention process, largely, is an externality, outside of the realm of economics.

Again, if it was true that “the whole invention process” was outside of the realm of economics (without IP, presumably), it would be possible to show such a case, i.e. invention process without physical objects. You assert it exists, yet fail to explain why or provide an example.

Furthermore, as I explained already, externalities are an omnipresent phenomenon, yet you arbitrarily choose them as relevant for IP while ignoring them in other cases. The only thing resembling an argument is an unsubstantiated claim that they are “largely” present with IP. Largely compared to what? How do you measure it?

Elementary logical errors. Who’s obsessed, Andras? Maybe you should stick to chemistry where you presumably are able to act like a scientist.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 11:11 am

Andras,

You are precisely right.

Matthew admits in his response that IP is singled out for “special treatment” in the realm of property rights, as if it is inherently different than any other property right.

He also see understands why he must reject the premise that property rights are a human device, because it allows the correct view that IP is no different in that regard than all physical property, and therefore is a function of the positive law that is enacted. This is undeniably the actual case with all property.

The natural rights theory of property is really a system of justification of the ethics of one system of positive law over another. It is no less “arbitrary” than any other, to the extent that it is just another form or rationale to legitimize a particular set of rules. Natural rights are in fact a human device to rationalize certain conclusions, nothing more. There are no laws of natural rights written in the heavens.

Danny Sanchez wrote a very good article about Mises Utilitarianism, and I think Matthew would do well to take his understanding of what we are talking about starting from there. It is fundamentally a question of means and ends. That would be an interesting debate, but as you said, no one in the Kinsella camp is going to go there because they deny the fundamental principle that IP is economically and socially justified in some form or another.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

@Matthew Swaringen September 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I disagree with you most of the time, but at least your posts are coherent.

IP is singled out for many different reasons, both rooted in the philosophy of natural rights (it’s inherently contradictory with physical property rights if you believe in those), and even in utilitarianism. It’s a restriction of the many to service the few, and it’s unclear what benefit actually arises out of it, those who support it the most don’t even attempt to meet the burden of proof that it actually is as beneficial as they claim.

Do you agree that property rights, even a theory of property based on natural rights, are a human device? If so, then you seem to be agreeing with your statement here: http://blog.mises.org/18468/absurd-arguments-for-ip/comment-page-1/#comment-801613

If I agreed with your point that positive law was the basis of property, I would agree with your point that there is no inherent contradiction between physical and intellectual property, because property can be arbitrarily defined.

If not, then where, outside of the human experience, do you go to read the tea leaves? If you are thinking of the Rothbardian theory of natural rights in property (homesteading, etc. etc.), then I have to wonder if you think he was human…
As Andras points out, it you assume that property rights are outside the domain of human action, then praxeology does not apply, and it is not subject to the analysis of economic theory.

If on the other hand, even your natural rights theories are human devices, then they fall within the domain of economics, subject to praxeology, and arguments should conform to the accepted principles of argumentation within that context. You cannot have it both ways, to say that “natural rights” are supreme, and must be assumed in the domain of economic analysis and calculation. Anyone asserting a position has assumes the burden of proof. Your side of the argument is not immune.
Continuing on, you say that IF property rights are a human device, THEN this:

However, then I would still say on utilitarian grounds that most of current IP law is both untenable and undesirable, and because it requires positive enforcement and infringements of the rights of 3rd parties (forcing ISPs, proxy services, etc to give up information about their customers, for example) the onus is on those advocating IP law to prove why it is a good idea.

But you fail to address the Mises argument on utilitarian grounds, and simply assert that “it requires positive enforcement and infringements of the rights of 3rd parties”. This begs the question, because if IP is assumed to be a legitimate right, enforcement is defensive. It is only when you deny legitimacy that you can claim it is “positive”, (read aggression).

When you say: “It’s a restriction of the many to service the few”, you don’t seem to understand that IP laws, and nearly all SCOTUS decisions concerning your point, hold to the premise that the PRIMARY purpose of IP laws is to facilitate learning, to the benefit of the MANY. It is only in service to that end are the means of limited monopoly rights employed. Your argument only works if you stand this on its head, which is not supported by the facts or a fair reading of the law. The cost of such monopoly is the means and bargained-for cost for such desirable ends, but should be extended no further than is necessary to achieve the ends. That is the current status of the PRINCIPLES of IP.

This is where IP has gone wrong, in my view. The means have been hijacked by “mercantilist” special interests, in collusion with legislative policy makers, and the means no longer effectively satisfy the desired ends, in all cases.

That this line of thinking is rejected outright is the nature of our real debate on this site.

It fits the agenda of just about anyone who cares about personal freedom more than state privilege.. .why is this bad?

It is common for ideologues to claim the high ground with platitudes that are generally desirable. Of course this is utter nonsense, as you are implying that anyone who favors the principle of IP doesn’t care about these noble ends. B.S.

This asserts the rights exist based on the assertion itself. If you have another basis for it then by all means make your case… please come up with a legitimate logical basis for IP that isn’t contradictory to real physical property or supply the utilitarian cost/benefit test that proves it works.

First, it is undeniable that these rights exist. You are simply proposing that they be abolished outright.

Second, your proposal, which you have a burden to support with arguments, has consequences, which I have cited as summarized by the Mises quote from HA.

Mises correctly lays out the dilemma; a) the inexhaustible nature of intellectual creations means that they exist outside of the normal realm of property, and as such may be considered outside the subject matter of traditional property laws; and b) the position implied by a) has its own set of problems, namely the problem of external economies.

Your position simply argues exclusively for a) and ignores b). Yet you offer no argument as to why Mises, who I presume you respect in most other contexts, is wrong about his analysis. I say, as I have said many, many times by now, those who hold this view, that Mises was “blind” to the realities, have a burden to show us all why.

Ignoring? I’d venture that Stephan posts more responses to those who comment on his articles than just about anyone…

Stephan is the most guilty poster on this blog of what Andras raises, and I say here, (and much more) including his refusal to address the externalities issue, or the human device issue, both of which are fundamental to the Mises economic analysis (not to mention the shameless ad hominem attempting to discredit anyone who disagrees with him).

Yes, he needs to get the arguments out there so that people will come to view the subject the way he views it.. which is exactly no different than what you attempt to do… You have your own agenda also…

You are correct about this, I think. Has it occurred to you that we might agree on the “wrongness” of the so-called parade of horrors, yet disagree on whether the fundamental principles of IP are justified? That is the real issue. Kinsella (and his adherents) use the “parade of horrors” to “prove” that IP should be abolished. Others use the same examples to “prove” that the system should be reformed (see Patry: Copyright Wars). That is the issue at hand.

The agenda, when you strip away all the B.S., is an Ancap agenda. Complete abolishment is the only position consistent with the view that “We have IP because we have the State”. It is really that simple, but you already know that.

And I don’t think you have even come remotely close to providing either of those assertions.

Yes, I know you think this. You might even be sincere about it. Proponents (modest proponents at that) here have raised issues which are avoided like the plague, or dismissed out of hand followed by a declaration of victory. It is not an honest or sincere debate. It is merely a campaign of “us” against “them”, and it stinks.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Stephan is the most guilty poster on this blog of what Andras raises, and I say here, (and much more) including his refusal to address the externalities issue, or the human device issue, both of which are fundamental to the Mises economic analysis (not to mention the shameless ad hominem attempting to discredit anyone who disagrees with him).

There are no “externalities” or “human device” “issues.” This is just nonsense–handwaving and smokescreens to deflect attention from the fact that (a) IP rights are just disguised ways of transferring property rights from original owners to state-favored supplicants; and (b) you have not provided a compelling argument why such theft is justified. Merely jabbering about your concern with externalities or your amateur, bumbling musings that property is a “human device” is not a justification for wholesale neomercantilist state-instituted theft.

Kinsella (and his adherents) use the “parade of horrors” to “prove” that IP should be abolished.

I’m not sure if this is a lie, or just stupidity. My and others’ argument against IP is principled and does not depend in the slightest on pointing out examples of how failure to respect property rights and granting the state such power over the economy leads to abuse and obvious injustice. But helping more concrete-bound individuals see these outrages might give them pause and make them challenge the propaganda you and others spout.

Kid Salami September 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Wildberry says:

“Has it occurred to you that we might agree on the “wrongness” of the so-called parade of horrors, yet disagree on whether the fundamental principles of IP are justified? ”

That applies to me also – IP is obviously abused and misused, to say the least. In fact, a possible position to take might be that even if some form of IP is deemed justified, it should be forcibly prevented because it is so open to abuse – not a position I’ve ever seen anyone take.

I’d like to jettison IP myself, but have some doubts: i think its operation is consistent with some existing common law principles which are harder to jettison; and I certainly think that it is not possible to abandon trademarks and go with the that the “buy can sue the seller for fraud” system that is put forward here, i think this is just a logical device for the purposes of “winning” arguments on blogs in your underwear and that in the real world it has serious fundamental problems.

“My and others’ argument against IP is principled and does not depend in the slightest on pointing out examples of how failure to respect property rights and granting the state such power over the economy leads to abuse and obvious injustice.”

Ok, one might wonder why you and everyone else needs to bring these up so often (or even at all) if this is true? But very clear. And this “principled…argument against IP” is:

“(a) IP rights are just disguised ways of transferring property rights from original owners to state-favored supplicants; and (b) you have not provided a compelling argument why such theft is justified”

Yet we can agree surely this is not an argument but a tautology, one that follows from the definitions of “property right” and, therefore, “theft” and, implicitly, “unlawful” (ie. aggression and aggression only).

The idea that property is really a “means of action” and that this is what really should be/is being “regulated” by the market is ignored. Frank Van Dun’s idea that liberty takes precedence over the NAP is ignored – simply assumed away. There really is little mileage in pointing this out any more. Anyone who can’t accept that this argument rests on an assumption that other reasonable people have reasonable reasons not to share is not being reasonable.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm

“Stephan is the most guilty poster on this blog of what Andras raises, and I say here, (and much more) including his refusal to address the externalities issue, or the human device issue, both of which are fundamental to the Mises economic analysis (not to mention the shameless ad hominem attempting to discredit anyone who disagrees with him).”

There are no “externalities” or “human device” “issues.” This is just nonsense–handwaving and smokescreens to deflect attention from the fact that (a) IP rights are just disguised ways of transferring property rights from original owners to state-favored supplicants; and (b) you have not provided a compelling argument why such theft is justified. Merely jabbering about your concern with externalities or your amateur, bumbling musings that property is a “human device” is not a justification for wholesale neomercantilist state-instituted theft.

Could you be any more illustrative of my point? Denial, fabrication, shifting the burden of proof, and ad hominem all in one place; very efficiently done. I wonder if you would be so dismissive of Mises if he was in the room?

And I love this one: “you have not provided a compelling argument why such theft is justified.” When did YOU stop beating your wife?

“Kinsella (and his adherents) use the “parade of horrors” to “prove” that IP should be abolished.”

I’m not sure if this is a lie, or just stupidity. My and others’ argument against IP is principled and does not depend in the slightest on pointing out examples of how failure to respect property rights and granting the state such power over the economy leads to abuse and obvious injustice. But helping more concrete-bound individuals see these outrages might give them pause and make them challenge the propaganda you and others spout.

I’m sure the “concrete-bound” individuals appreciate you “help”. Assuming much here? When was the last time you responded to a critic of your views with anything responsive, helpful, and the least bit respectful?

If you expect the “concrete-bound” to cast off their chains and follow you into a world where people act like you, I think you will find that most prefer the concrete. Your conduct is despicable.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Kid Salami:

That applies to me also – IP is obviously abused and misused, to say the least. In fact, a possible position to take might be that even if some form of IP is deemed justified, it should be forcibly prevented because it is so open to abuse – not a position I’ve ever seen anyone take.

I’ve said this before. Even if IP seems to make sense, we just cannot favor it as it will always go beyond its scope; similar arguments have been made against the state itself; and against, say, abortion laws.

I’d like to jettison IP myself, but have some doubts

the question is who has the burden of proof: those who want to “jettison” it but have to over come your “doubts”; or those who want to impose it or justify its imposition. It’s clearly the latter, and they clearly have not and cannot meet their burden of proving that it’s justified.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Wildberry:

When was the last time you responded to a critic of your views with anything responsive, helpful, and the least bit respectful?

The last time I saw one of them mount a sincere, honest, coherent case for IP–oh, never. In any case, I do not respect in the slightest fascists and socialists hell-bent on using the state to take my or others’ property rights.

Kid Salami September 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm

“the question is who has the burden of proof: those who want to “jettison” it but have to over come your “doubts”; or those who want to impose it or justify its imposition”

Well, you can phrase it like this if you like, as if my “doubts” are just my misunderstandings and I’m yet to see the light. But at first I tried, I really did, to get on board, but I can’t – this “physical only” argument simply doesn’t persuade me – I don’t think it is practically possible, not what people want, and i agree with almost every word of Frank Van Dun’s criticisms of you and Walter Block on this. Sorry.

And let’s not forget, you’re the one who wants to reject the null hypothesis not me – we have IP now, in case you forget. The idea that any law which forbids anything that is not physical invasion is the null hypothesis and anything else is “imposing” is to assume your conclusion, seemingly a sport around here.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Even if IP seems to make sense, we just cannot favor it as it will always go beyond its scope; similar arguments have been made against the state itself; and against, say, abortion laws.

What a self-defeating sentiment. Poor helpless Stephan! If we don’t oppose (fill in the blank), it will grow out of control, and we are all helpless to stop it! We should live in world where it is not necessary to do anything difficult, it just too…hard!

Any agreement whatsoever implies the potential for deceit, abuse, breach, and betrayal. Therefore we should never make an agreement, because the risks are just too high!??

the question is who has the burden of proof: those who want to “jettison” it but have to over come your “doubts”; or those who want to impose it or justify its imposition. It’s clearly the latter, and they clearly have not and cannot meet their burden of proving that it’s justified.

Clearly? Says who? If anyone has the burden of proof it falls to those who are prosecuting for a change from the status quo.

But as I’ve said to you, and what you obviously don’t accept, is that in a DIALOGUE, both parties assume a burden of proof for their arguments, and have an OBLIGATION to address the objections raised by the other side. That is the general concept of civilized discourse. You should try it sometime.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Kid:

Well, you can phrase it like this if you like, as if my “doubts” are just my misunderstandings and I’m yet to see the light. But at first I tried, I really did, to get on board, but I can’t – this “physical only” argument simply doesn’t persuade me

That’s not the point: the point is your having a doubt is not enough to justify the aggression involved with IP. Have doubts–fine.

As for physical only: funny that you say this, but then you always want to enforce IP using … well force. Which is … ummmm … physical. and always aimed at … ummmm … physical property. Like my money, or my body, or my stuff. If you IP guys didn’t think physicality or real force mattered so much, why stoop to our lowly materialistic level to enforce your vaunted “intellectual” rights? Enforce them in your ethereal realm only, and you won’t find us complaining much.

– I don’t think it is practically possible, not what people want, and i agree with almost every word of Frank Van Dun’s criticisms of you and Walter Block on this. Sorry.

I forgive you. You agree with Van Dun on blackmail…?

And let’s not forget, you’re the one who wants to reject the null hypothesis not me – we have IP now, in case you forget.

We have drug laws and taxes and war too. I guess they are all presumptively valid! No, I’m not such a legal positivist as this.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

That’s not the point: the point is your having a doubt is not enough to justify the aggression involved with IP. Have doubts–fine.

You have raised the art of deflection, equivocation and assuming your conclusion to a fine art.

As for physical only: funny that you say this, but then you always want to enforce IP using … well force… Enforce them in your ethereal realm only, and you won’t find us complaining much.

“enforce XX using … well force” How else does one to it? You can use force to expel a trespasser, but I can only use thought waves to enforce IP?

“– I don’t think it is practically possible, not what people want, and i agree with almost every word of Frank Van Dun’s criticisms of you and Walter Block on this. Sorry.”

I forgive you. You agree with Van Dun on blackmail…?

“this” is blackmail?

We have drug laws and taxes and war too. I guess they are all presumptively valid! No, I’m not such a legal positivist as this.

Cheez! Who said they are presumptively valid? Straw man much? If you feel any of these laws are invalid, you have a burden of persuasion and proof to justify your position.

Honestly, Kinsella you sometimes behave like a child. The distinction between Van Dun and you is like the difference between Einstein and Professor Erwin Corey.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHlLmYVCzKY

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Wildberry, or whatever your nym is:

That’s not the point: the point is your having a doubt is not enough to justify the aggression involved with IP. Have doubts–fine.

You have raised the art of deflection, equivocation and assuming your conclusion to a fine art.

Thank you, sirrah. But it is not any of these. We all here presumably already agree that there ought to be property rights in scarce goods. You agree, I agree. I don’t care what your “reasons” are. The point is we all agree on this. (If you do not, please announce yourself clearly, so I can forswear discussing with you, as i do not discourse with criminals unless they pose an imminent threat to me).) So it is permissible for me to point out to you that principle B that you propose is incompatible with principle A that we both already agree with.

“– I don’t think it is practically possible, not what people want, and i agree with almost every word of Frank Van Dun’s criticisms of you and Walter Block on this. Sorry.”

I forgive you. You agree with Van Dun on blackmail…?

“this” is blackmail?

No. Dinkus, whats-his-name, said he agreed w/ “ever word” of Van Dun. Van Dun said there that he agreed w/ blackmail law, contra me and Block. So, I”m asking dinkus if he agrees with Van Dun on blackmail theory.

We have drug laws and taxes and war too. I guess they are all presumptively valid! No, I’m not such a legal positivist as this.

Cheez! Who said they are presumptively valid?

Well they are the law now. You and dinkus are implying that the burden is on us to argue against an existing law. That implies that existing positive law is presumptively valid. How stupid are you, really? Jesus.

Incidentally, I know Van Dun well, he is a friend of mine, I see him on a regular basis, and he’s on the board of advisors of my journal. But we disagree on a few matters of legal theory.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 1:14 am

The idea that any law which forbids anything that is not physical invasion is the null hypothesis and anything else is “imposing” is to assume your conclusion, seemingly a sport around here.

Like you don’t assume yours. You don’t even state your conclusion, you deal exclusively with why other are assuming their conclusions.

Of course it is not a null hypothesis, the only thing that is null is how many explanations of that axiom (not a hypothesis, a hypothesis is understood to not be logically necessary and therefore relies on contingent experiences) you cared to read.

To forbid something that is not physical invasion is by definition physical invasion. This is not presuming any conclusion of what is justified and not. “Forbidding” is, by definition, a forceful act, and if it is not in response to a forceful act (i.e. a physical invasion) then it is an initiation of a forceful act and therefore an invasion of someone’s property.

When you give up on the unjustifiability of initiating force, you give up the only reason to establish *any* invasion as unjustified. Hence what people have been saying here for months, which is that any law that forbids something that is not a physical invasion must be a physical invasion itself and thus in contradiction to property rights. It is not assuming anything about justifiability, it is pointing out that the forbidder must have a different set of rights than the forbidee, and assigning them all equivalent rights is self-contradicting.

So, no it is not null neither is it a hypothesis. The non-aggression principle is an axiom that is established as such by noting that any other principle could not possibly be universalized and count as a universal behavioral norm, which is what an ethic is.

Besides, the best you have come up with when I ask you to present your property rights theory is pointing at history. In other words, you have no property rights theory and think you have found all these problems with my property rights theory even though you seem unable to even begin constructing your own theory. Like I said last time, so easy to condemn, so hard to create.

If you were actually interested in the intellectual content of this debate you would provide something yourself instead of attacking everyone who tries to solve the problem at all. You have brought nothing to the table and have done nothing but express a nihilistic attitude towards the study of property at all.

The worst part is that you don’t just try to find error, you relentlessly mock the very thought that this problem can be solved at all, and then pretend to have magically arrived at some solution that you seem reluctant to even identify in any detail.

Your refusal to reveal the critical analysis that gets you to your IP position, whatever it may be, is only a sign that you fear how well it will be criticized if you do reveal it.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 2:13 am

including his refusal to address the externalities issue, or the human device issue, both of which are fundamental to the Mises economic analysis

Oh you mean what I have addressed every single time you brought them up?

It doesn’t matter who answered you. You got answered and have no excuse to complain about not getting an answer. Unless Stephen has something to say about my responses to these problems why would he need to respond himself?

I want you to show me where in Human Action Mises suggests that anything being a “human device” implies it is arbitrarily constructed.

not to mention the shameless ad hominem attempting to discredit anyone who disagrees with him

Well this is just ridiculous. You in fact engaged is several ad hominems attempting to discredit me for disagreeing with Mises, particularly his theory of monopoly prices (I agree with Rothbard’s revision of this theory). First you “accused” me, and continue to do so, of regurgitating whatever Kinsella says, and then accused me of thinking Hoppe is the “final authority” on anything, and then accused of being so bold as to go up against Mises by agreeing with Rothbard. Ridiculous.

Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 5:34 am

sweatervest – I don’t reply to your rambling posts because you consistently misrepresent what I say (either directly or in spirit) and I can’t be bothered – for example, you just wrote an entire rant about what was a fairly unimportant and uncontroversial addendum to my post that I added in the “Edit” period. I phrased it using the term “null hypothesis” and this has set off one of your word-match rant alarms. If you think I’m scared of answering your questions, you’re dreaming. Ask me one if you want – I’m curious as to what you think I can’t answer.

Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 5:46 am

“You agree with Van Dun on blackmail…?”

Rather than derail the discussion by adding blackmail into the mix, let’s jus say I agree with him that we need not limit “unlawful” acts to violations of the NAP. I don’t just think this “ought” to be true, I suggest that there are other parts of the common law that are untenable with the hardcore NAP view and that we have these for good reason.

“We have drug laws and taxes and war too. I guess they are all presumptively valid! No, I’m not such a legal positivist as this.”

No of course not. Its not a very strong or important point but you brought it up not me, you said the burden of proof is on me. I disagree – its on both “sides” actually, but if anything more on you as the advanced division of labour technological society we all rely on has never existed without IP. It has existed with IP – right now.

At least I don’t have any surprises lurking from how things will work if we adopt trademarks – we have them. You can’t say this for sure, you can only predict – but in any complex system like this, when there are feedbacks (which there are), such predictions are dangerous, to say the least. As Van Dun notes, the transaction costs if every contract has to encompass every scenario would potentially be ruinous.

Peter Surda September 23, 2011 at 8:03 am

Kid Salami,

hardcore NAP view

well, while you disagree with NAP from the normative point of view, I am still not sure if/why you disagree with it from the logical point of view. Whether you like it or not, NAP is the clearest rule I know that allows to conclude whether an action is in accordance or in violation of it. The alternatives presented do not come close.

You might recall that, for example I agreed with you that it is possible to switch land from homesteadable to only possessable-only. Theoretically. It leads to some practical issues but can be defined in a consistent manner. But also note that when the mutualist Adam a couple of weeks ago was confronted with the consequences, he preferred an inconsistent position.

It’s the same with the pro-IP-ers. When they are confronted with the logical consequences of their own theories (for example, showing that their specific claims contradict each other), instead of fixing the contradiction and presenting a consistent theory, they respond with logical fallacies.

I might disagree with Kinsella and Sweatervest that the NAP is necessarily ethically superiour. I even disagree that the burden of proof is on IP proponents. But even if it is theoretically possible to construct a different, consistent, framework, kindly notice how the advocates of alternatives are not actually doing that. They present their hunches and dogmas as if it was the ultimate truth, and they fail to engage in a rational discourse. They prefer to guard their inconsistent position to a scientific falsificationist process, and mask their insecurities by presenting themselves as being above the mundane requirements of logic.

Show me one IP proponent that is willing to debate interactively and I can bet that I will bring him to a situation where he refuses to answer a question.

Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

Kid Salami:

Rather than derail the discussion by adding blackmail into the mix, let’s jus say I agree with him that we need not limit “unlawful” acts to violations of the NAP.

But you said earlier you agreed with “almost every word” of Van Dun’s criticism of me. You brought it up, not me. Apparently you don’t agree w/ him on blackmail.

I don’t just think this “ought” to be true, I suggest that there are other parts of the common law that are untenable with the hardcore NAP view and that we have these for good reason.
“We have drug laws and taxes and war too. I guess they are all presumptively valid! No, I’m not such a legal positivist as this.”
No of course not. Its not a very strong or important point but you brought it up not me, you said the burden of proof is on me. I disagree – its on both “sides” actually, but if anything more on you as the advanced division of labour technological society we all rely on has never existed without IP. It has existed with IP – right now.

Patent and copyright were artificial creations of state legislation. Not evolved out of the common law. There is no possible presumption of validity to these “laws.”

At least I don’t have any surprises lurking from how things will work if we adopt trademarks – we have them. You can’t say this for sure, you can only predict – but in any complex system like this, when there are feedbacks (which there are), such predictions are dangerous, to say the least. As Van Dun notes, the transaction costs if every contract has to encompass every scenario would potentially be ruinous.

This is not an argument. Not a libertarian one, anyway. It’s a conventionalist account of law.

Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

But you said earlier you agreed with “almost every word” of Van Dun’s criticism of me. You brought it up, not me. Apparently you don’t agree w/ him on blackmail.

I do agree with “almost every word” – I may have phrased the case he puts forward for blackmail and libel differently although i suspect I would agree with him, and this is in fact precisely why I included the well-known English word “almost”.

Patent and copyright were artificial creations of state legislation. Not evolved out of the common law.

I don’t contest this.

There is no possible presumption of validity to these “laws.

I’m not presuming anything is valid. I’m saying that IF, when broken down to their core, they operate according to principles accepted in other areas of the common law which we agree DID evolve in an agreeable fashion, then regardless of how IP laws they came about, this would be interesting.

This is not an argument. Not a libertarian one, anyway. It’s a conventionalist account of law.

Yes I get it, because your case is “principled” and not dependent on details such as how your system of rules would actually operate in the real world (for example, with regard to transaction costs). If thinking about such things (whcih are very real economic issues) excludes me from being libertarian then I don’t really know what to say.

Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 9:41 am

NAP is the clearest rule I know that allows to conclude whether an action is in accordance or in violation of it. The alternatives presented do not come close.

What about possession only which In put forward a while back?

You might recall that, for example I agreed with you that it is possible to switch land from homesteadable to only possessable-only. Theoretically. It leads to some practical issues but can be defined in a consistent manner. But also note that when the mutualist Adam a couple of weeks ago was confronted with the consequences, he preferred an inconsistent position.

I didn’t agree with that much of what he said either, I’d prefer to defend what I said rather than what random yahoos I don’t know said. BUt yes, I think a case can be made for it being a logically consistent system. Therefore, to eliminate this arbitrariness, we need reasons to favour one over the other – why can’t i call you an “aggressor” for allowing land to be “owned”? This is a real question and must be answered – I’ve already asked and dont recall being impressed by the answers.

It’s the same with the pro-IP-ers. When they are confronted with the logical consequences of their own theories (for example, showing that their specific claims contradict each other), instead of fixing the contradiction and presenting a consistent theory, they respond with logical fallacies.

That’s nothing to do with me. I think I can argue for trademarks and as you could argue that copyrights are kind-of the same then I’ll have to allow the possibility they are valid also.

I might disagree with Kinsella and Sweatervest that the NAP is necessarily ethically superiour. I even disagree that the burden of proof is on IP proponents. But even if it is theoretically possible to construct a different, consistent, framework, kindly notice how the advocates of alternatives are not actually doing that.

I’m aware you don’t agree with this.

Show me one IP proponent that is willing to debate interactively and I can bet that I will bring him to a situation where he refuses to answer a question.

This has nothing to do with me – I’m not making a case for “IP propnents”, most or all of whom I disagree with some or all of the time. I only want a debate, based on the principles in the evolution of the common law, instead of an open and shut case and calling everyone who hasn’t seen the light a moron.

Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

Kid S:

But you said earlier you agreed with “almost every word” of Van Dun’s criticism of me. You brought it up, not me. Apparently you don’t agree w/ him on blackmail.

I do agree with “almost every word” – I may have phrased the case he puts forward for blackmail and libel differently although i suspect I would agree with him, and this is in fact precisely why I included the well-known English word “almost”.

There is no way to justify blackmail from libertarian principles. Walter Block has shown this over and over. Are you even a libertarian? If not, maybe that’s how you can waffle on IP.

Patent and copyright were artificial creations of state legislation. Not evolved out of the common law.

I don’t contest this.

There is no possible presumption of validity to these “laws.

I’m not presuming anything is valid. I’m saying that IF, when broken down to their core, they operate according to principles accepted in other areas of the common law which we agree DID evolve in an agreeable fashion, then regardless of how IP laws they came about, this would be interesting.

But they do not; and in any case, if you say the burden is on me to show why these statutes ought to be abolished, this is tantamount to presuming they are valid as is–it’s a statist quo stance.

This is not an argument. Not a libertarian one, anyway. It’s a conventionalist account of law.

Yes I get it, because your case is “principled” and not dependent on details such as how your system of rules would actually operate in the real world (for example, with regard to transaction costs).

oh, we see how IP works in the real world. It costs us tens if not hundreds or thousands of billions of dollars per year.

If thinking about such things (whcih are very real economic issues) excludes me from being libertarian then I don’t really know what to say.

You say “I am not a libertarian but I like to chat with them from time to time anyway.”

Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 10:16 am

“There is no way to justify blackmail from libertarian principles. Walter Block has shown this over and over. Are you even a libertarian? If not, maybe that’s how you can waffle on IP.”

I don’t know – maybe I’m not, maybe Frank Van Dun isn’t either. Maybe anyone who doesn’t thing the NAP is the one and only rule isn’t a libertarian – this means I’m not then. I don’t really care either way what label is assigned to me.

I agree Block has shown that blackmail is not unlawful according to the NAP – it isn’t. Whether or not the NAP alone is sufficient to define all unlawful acts though is precisely what is up for debate though isn’t it, so we’re back in one of those scenarios which are like a verbal equivalent of an Escher drawing.

“But they do not”

I don’t agree.

£if you say the burden is on me to show why these statutes ought to be abolished”

I didn’t and don’t say this.

“oh, we see how IP works in the real world. It costs us tens if not hundreds or thousands of billions of dollars per year.”

Patents, this I can buy. Trademarks? You’ve done this calculation? I think not.

Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

Kid S:

I didn’t agree with that much of what he said either, I’d prefer to defend what I said rather than what random yahoos I don’t know said. BUt yes, I think a case can be made for it being a logically consistent system. Therefore, to eliminate this arbitrariness, we need reasons to favour one over the other – why can’t i call you an “aggressor” for allowing land to be “owned”? This is a real question and must be answered – I’ve already asked and dont recall being impressed by the answers.

I tried my best to appraoch this in What Libertarianism Is. The bottom line is that if you do not value ways to have peace cooperation and prosperity, and productive use of scarce resources, you will not want property rights. bUt if you do, you will. And there is a difference between mere possession and property rights; if you have only the former, it’s the same as a world of conflict, a world of might makes right; a world of no right, no norms. If that is your evil or amoral stance–fine. We know there are outlaws and enemies and criminals in the world. But if you favor some system to permit peace and productivity and prosperity you necessarily have to favor property rights. And this implies you favor the assignment of property rights in some manner that is related to the goal of reducing conflict and that can be potentially accepted as fair and just by those bound by this rule. And if you understand a bit of economics, and are consistent and reasonable, you will see that only the libertarian-Lockean rule of first-user-first-owner satisfies these constraints.

That’s nothing to do with me. I think I can argue for trademarks and as you could argue that copyrights are kind-of the same then I’ll have to allow the possibility they are valid also.

Copyright is nothing like trademark. Even trademark cannot itself be justified–only fraud law. But fraud-aspects of TM law are only part of TM law, and plus, it gives the right to the wrong party: to the TM holder, instead of the defrauded customer.

I’m not making a case for “IP propnents”, most or all of whom I disagree with some or all of the time. I only want a debate, based on the principles in the evolution of the common law, instead of an open and shut case and calling everyone who hasn’t seen the light a moron.

We do not do this. I realize this is not easy. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it an finally see the light. It’s hard to undo all the propaganda we have been exposed to. But this does not excuse the dishonesty, ignorance, and arrogance of people like Halling and “Wildberry”.

Peter Surda September 23, 2011 at 10:37 am

Kid Salami,

What about possession only which In put forward a while back?

I admit this is a consistent position, but I think it has consequences which proponents thereof probably do not agree with. I can’t imagine anyone advocating consistent application of such a rule. Hypothetically though, you are right.

This is a real question and must be answered – I’ve already asked and dont recall being impressed by the answers.

See above paragraph. It is possible to construct it theoretically, but I don’t think anyone would advocate it consistently, rather would start making exceptions.

This has nothing to do with me.

I readily admit it. But that was not my point. My point is that you’re constructing positions that noone is advocating. Why should I (or Stephan, or sweatervest) then address them if noone is advocating them?

When someone starts advocating them, then I will confront them.

Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 10:51 am

Kid S:

“There is no way to justify blackmail from libertarian principles. Walter Block has shown this over and over. Are you even a libertarian? If not, maybe that’s how you can waffle on IP.”

I don’t know – maybe I’m not, maybe Frank Van Dun isn’t either. Maybe anyone who doesn’t thing the NAP is the one and only rule isn’t a libertarian – this means I’m not then. I don’t really care either way what label is assigned to me.

I think you are not a libertarian to the extent you deviate from the NAP as understood as rooted in Lockean homesteading re scarce goods. And it’s not about the label, it’s about the action you would commit or condone.

I agree Block has shown that blackmail is not unlawful according to the NAP – it isn’t. Whether or not the NAP alone is sufficient to define all unlawful acts though is precisely what is up for debate though isn’t it, so we’re back in one of those scenarios which are like a verbal equivalent of an Escher drawing.

It’s not really that hard. If you are not against aggression on principle, fine, as I said, that is an honest way of declaring yourself to be at least to some extent willing to side with outlawry, chaos, violence, and criminality.

“oh, we see how IP works in the real world. It costs us tens if not hundreds or thousands of billions of dollars per year.”

Patents, this I can buy. Trademarks? You’ve done this calculation? I think not.

I was speaking primiraly of patent and copyrihgt. But even TM distorts things. The cost is mostly in liberty. Which I don’t discount, as I’m not a law and economics type. But even in TM the whole industry and cultre are distorted b/c of TV–designers put their logos into their dresses and purses to stop competitors; adn so on. What is the cost of this cultural distortion? I don’t konw.

Wildberry September 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

@Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 10:51 am

It’s not really that hard. If you are not against aggression on principle, fine, as I said, that is an honest way of declaring yourself to be at least to some extent willing to side with outlawry, chaos, violence, and criminality.

This is no better than the sleaziest lawyer or politician saying “If you are against X, you are willing to side with outlawry, chaos, violence, and criminality”.

Fortunately, not everyone is a stupid as you apparently believe them to be.

Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm

It’s not really that hard. If you are not against aggression on principle, fine, as I said, that is an honest way of declaring yourself to be at least to some extent willing to side with outlawry, chaos, violence, and criminality.

Are you even pretending that what you do here is “debate” any more? I suppose Frank Van Dun in this essay (about which you said “While I have some disagreements with Van Dun’s conclusions, it is a provocative piece.”)

http://mises.org/daily/3794

when he says:

There may be cases where there is a conflict between claims on behalf of one person’s freedom and claims on behalf of another person’s private property. In such cases, the question arises, which claims should prevail? Unquestionably, the libertarian answer should be freedom before property. Unfortunately, many libertarians are reluctant to give up the conception of “freedom as property” that (1) serves them so well in their critiques of interventionism and collectivism and (2) underpins their notion that the law of a libertarian order is merely the rigorous application of the so-called nonaggression principle.

The logical link between “freedom as property” and the nonaggression principle is the definition of aggression as an invasion of another person’s property for any purpose other than getting restitution of one’s property from, or securing compensation for damages resulting from a previous aggression committed by, that person. Thus, according to the nonaggression principle, only aggressive invasions of another’s property are unlawful and every act of any other kind is lawful. In practical terms, libertarian judges have no right to authorize interference with nonaggressive acts, and libertarian enforcement agencies have no right to enforce any unilateral prohibition or restriction of such acts. However, if freedom is the supreme libertarian value, this will not do.

is also then necessarily on the “side with outlawry, chaos, violence, and criminality”? Thanks for confirming what an utter waste of time debate with you is.

Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Episode when Homer buys a gun and Lisa complains.

Homer: Lisa, if I didn’t have this gun, the king of England could walk right in here and start pushing you around.

[Homer starts pushing Lisa around]

Homer: D’you want that? Huh? Do ya?

Lisa: No…

Wildberry September 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

If that is your evil or amoral stance–fine.

Is this really the only possibility for those who disagree with you?

And if you understand a bit of economics, and are consistent and reasonable, you will see that only the libertarian-Lockean rule of first-user-first-owner satisfies these constraints.

An if you don’t buy NAP as the foundation of all that is honest and true, you cannot be consistent and reasonable, must know nothing about economics and just can’t see that “libertarian-Lockean” rules are the only possible way to organize property rights.

We do not do this.

Do you mean that you thing dishonesty, ignorance and arrogance are compliments to the character of those you address in this way, or that you just have not used the word “moron”?

I realize this is not easy. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it an finally see the light.

Spoken like a true ideologue. Have you considered the possibility that some rather thoughtful and intelligent folks have wrapped their minds around your ideology and found it lacking?

It’s hard to undo all the propaganda we have been exposed to.

Propaganda applies to ANY material disseminated by the advocates of a doctrine or cause. It is up to the finder of fact to sort out the issues of accuracy and credibility. Your brand of propaganda is no less subject to such scrutiny.
You are a master of smear tactics, and I personally find your approach to these debates unconscionable.

For example, you recently asserted that Halling’s opinion should be discounted as being a “shill” because he makes his living from a system of laws which he advocates.
You said here: http://blog.mises.org/18485/patent-trolls-cost-the-economy-half-a-trillion-dollars-since-1990/comment-page-1/#comment-801880

It is reasonable to ask if someone who has a financial interest in perpetuating a system is sincere or biased.

It is equally reasonable to ask if one who has financial interest in the system which he also opposes is sincere or biased in either. It is a reasonable question in either case, but neither is a foregone conclusion that can be used as a weapon to discredit one of the other by simply trotting out such a character smear without some evidence or support.

At least to take a position in favor of your own interests is entirely more consistent than advocating against your own self-interests. At least it doesn’t’ imply a possible conflict of interest. A lawyer who would defend a client against the death penalty during the day, and advocates for it at night, would be suspect as to which system he is “honestly” sincere about, or how his conflicting bias for against might affect his effectiveness at trial.

No I have no reason to suspect you are insincere about your ideology, even though I think you are wrong about many things, including your chosen style of debate which is exemplified below.

But this does not excuse the dishonesty, ignorance, and arrogance of people like Halling and “Wildberry”.

What makes you a propagandist in the negative sense, is your willingness to SELECT the facts and arguments you are willing to address with your ideology. This is what makes your style of debate dishonest; you do not honestly and directly take on the criticisms to your positions, granting your opponents the same benefit of the doubt for sincerity and honesty that you grant yourself. That is, in my mind at least, an indication of your own self-righteous arrogance.

Much like Kid Salami, I started this discussion with you some time ago with a complete willingness to accept that IP was fundamentally and ethically wrong. I just wanted to understand how reason and logic leads to that conclusion, and I found otherwise.

In the process I discovered that this is not really a forum or reasonable debate on the substance of the issues; it was a ideological battle between the “enlightened” and “those who have not seen the light”.

In a legal context, civilized people have invented rules of evidence and professional codes of conduct that serve to at least reduce the demagoguery and inflammatory rhetoric, and to provide for a fair reading of the law and a rational evaluation of the facts.

Your greatest failure, in my humble opinion, is your willingness to conduct yourself here in ways that would never be tolerated in any courtroom in which you would be allowed to practice your lawyerly skills. Your willingness to hold yourself to such a low standard of conduct reveals, at least to me, your poor opinion and respect for others.

Reasonable people may disagree. Unreasonable people preach salvation and the damnation of the unconverted. I find your conduct despicable.

Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Wildberry:

If that is your evil or amoral stance–fine.

Is this really the only possibility for those who disagree with you?

No.

And if you understand a bit of economics, and are consistent and reasonable, you will see that only the libertarian-Lockean rule of first-user-first-owner satisfies these constraints.

An if you don’t buy NAP as the foundation of all that is honest and true, you cannot be consistent and reasonable, must know nothing about economics and just can’t see that “libertarian-Lockean” rules are the only possible way to organize property rights.

It is true that no non-libertarian norms can be argumentatively justified, as you exemplify on a regular basis.

We do not do this.

Do you mean that you thing dishonesty, ignorance and arrogance are compliments to the character of those you address in this way, or that you just have not used the word “moron”?

I mean that people are not regarded as morons merely by virtue of being wrong.

I realize this is not easy. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it an finally see the light.

Spoken like a true ideologue. Have you considered the possibility that some rather thoughtful and intelligent folks have wrapped their minds around your ideology and found it lacking?

Relevance?

You are a master of smear tactics,

Thank-you, sirrah.

and I personally find your approach to these debates unconscionable.

Like an unenforceable contract?

For example, you recently asserted that Halling’s opinion should be discounted as being a “shill” because he makes his living from a system of laws which he advocates.

I do not think that is why his opinion should be discounted. I think he is a shill. But he is wrong for independent reasons.

It is reasonable to ask if someone who has a financial interest in perpetuating a system is sincere or biased.

It is equally reasonable to ask if one who has financial interest in the system which he also opposes is sincere or biased in either. It is a reasonable question in either case, but neither is a foregone conclusion that can be used as a weapon to discredit one of the other by simply trotting out such a character smear without some evidence or support.

Of course. I know this. I have never implied otherwise. There are probably some patent lawyers who are pro-patent but who are innocent about their mistake.

At least to take a position in favor of your own interests is entirely more consistent than advocating against your own self-interests.

Like a DEA agent who thinks the drug war is legit! Wow, it’s important to be consistent. Very libertarian observation!! not.

What makes you a propagandist in the negative sense, is your willingness to SELECT the facts and arguments you are willing to address with your ideology.

N. Stephan Kinsella’s actions cannot make patent justified. So it’s irrelevant. Suppose i admit: I am a hypocrite! I lie! I love patents! They are great! Does this make them justified? El-nope-orino.

Much like Kid Salami, I started this discussion with you some time ago with a complete willingness to accept that IP was fundamentally and ethically wrong.

1. Meh.

2. I doubt it.

3. Who cares?

Your greatest failure, in my humble opinion, is your willingness to conduct yourself here in ways that would never be tolerated in any courtroom in which you would be allowed to practice your lawyerly skills.

Like going by a nym?

Reasonable people may disagree. Unreasonable people preach salvation and the damnation of the unconverted. I find your conduct despicable.

Good! Praised by faint damn.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 12:50 am

sweatervest – I don’t reply to your rambling posts because you consistently misrepresent what I say (either directly or in spirit) and I can’t be bothered – for example, you just wrote an entire rant about what was a fairly unimportant and uncontroversial addendum to my post that I added in the “Edit” period.

Okay well that’s a pretty silly complaint. I suppose I should have known that you added that part in the edit period and that I shouldn’t respond to it.

I phrased it using the term “null hypothesis” and this has set off one of your word-match rant alarms.

What are you trying to say, that phrasing it differently would have changed the meaning? Okay, so did you mean what you said or did you mean something else?

If you think I’m scared of answering your questions, you’re dreaming.

If you think I care what you are scared of then you are too immature to participate in these kinds of debates. Not that I care.

Ask me one if you want – I’m curious as to what you think I can’t answer.

No, because questions are not arguments. They are a way to try and control the debate by controlling the content through posing questions and ignoring anything that is not an answer to that question. Every one of your questions is loaded. You might as well ask me, “so you do think stealing ideas is okay or not?” What you do is only pay attention to the answers to your questions so you can then respond to the answer, not pose another question, and exit the debate by responding to everything else with “just ask me a question”. This is sophistry. You know what is being debated. I argued in my last post that only physical invasion being unjustifiable is not assumed but derived. I don’t need to ask you to please respond to my arguments. But I will try to refine what I said in my last post. You will predictably call this “transmitting”, to which I respond, “Welcome to debating.” Try transmitting something back.

The purpose of property rights (ethics) is to determine when and where the use of force (i.e. physical forcing) is justifiable. The question of whether a non-forceful act is justifiable or not is equivalent to the question of whether a forceful response is justifiable or not. If it is ever the case that a forceful response to a non-forceful act is justifiable then that means initiation of force is sometimes justifiable, which contradicts the non-aggression axiom, which is not an assumption but an axiom.

First I would like to appeal to your common sense. Do you really think introducing forceful acts to otherwise peaceful interactions is ever a good idea? I am not assuming anything in calling non-forceful acts peaceful. How could you say that being the one to first be forceful, to bring violence to the table, is ever justified in doing so? Is it not extremely uncivilized in all cases to respond to non-forceful behavior, no matter how rude, obnoxious, or devaluing it may be, with forceful acts? The whole point is that forcing is bad! People don’t like to be forced. Being forced leads to suffering. The purpose is to at least work towards the impossible ideal of there being no forcing at all. That is the common sense essence of the non-aggression axiom. Force is necessarily bad for someone, so the only justifiable (i.e. possibly universally agreeable on) use of force is in response to force aimed at avoiding further forceful acts.

Second I would like to be more rigorous. Physical rights must be enforced physically, and compensated with physical transfers. No one doubts that. But it is also true and agreed upon that nonphysical rights must be enforced physically and compensated with physical transfers. It is possible to have a system of legislated “rights” that include nonphysical rights as possible compensation for victims of rights violations. It is conceivable that if one invaded the physical or intellectual rights of another person he may lose his own intellectual, rather than physical, rights in the process. To be clear, this is *never* what happens in practice and I doubt IP proponents are suggesting that getting beaten up by someone results in them having to give you the rights to their song or invention. But it is possible, and they may start suggesting that.

But what is decisive is that there is no conceivable way to nonphysically enforce nonphysical rights. Whatever actions are taken to prevent nonphysical invasions from happening are acts of *physical* control. IP proponents are not describing mind control (thank god). They are describing control of physical goods, and this control is maintained only through physical enforcement. This is true of all enforcement, and it is why only physical invasion can meaningfully be called an “invasion”. At the very least you are admitting that physical control of IP violators’ property is justified, which is admitting that the only concern is over physical use of physical goods.

Kid, I also have some things to say about some other stuff you posted. I sincerely hope they were not added hastily during the edit stage.

And this “principled…argument against IP” is:

“(a) IP rights are just disguised ways of transferring property rights from original owners to state-favored supplicants; and (b) you have not provided a compelling argument why such theft is justified”

First of all this is a gross simplification if not an outright straw man. The principled case against IP is just a small part of the only principled case for property ever made. It arises naturally through realizing that property rights only arise in-so-far as the means of action (goods) are scarce, which is to say that conflicts over their use is possible, that ideas are neither goods nor meaningfully scarce (and contrary to Wildberry’s complaint ideas include as a subset things that IP is designed to protect, i.e. novels and inventions). There is no question of the ownership of the novel or the invention. There is only the question of ownership over a particular physical instance of the novel or the invention, and IP can only shuffle around rights to these instances. This implies that people can lose their (physical) property rights by the actions of others and undermines the very concept of property as exclusive control. The fact that property rights do not include all uses of property is irrelevant for the only time when a use of property is not included in rights to that property is when that right cannot be universalized, i.e. if you have the right to murder me I am dead and cannot possibly have the right to murder you, there is no possible way that everyone can simultaneously exercise those rights. This is more generally the Kantian Categorical Imperative which is a necessary feature of any system of property rights.

Physical invasion cannot be universalized as a right because if you physically invade me I cannot physically invade you. Forceful response to physical invasion can be universalized, and so can use of the ideas of others without their permission. What cannot be universalized is IP. All IP rights must be involve arbitrary, subjective stipulations that cannot be arrived at independently except by chance by a third party whose in non-theless subjected to those stipulations which creates two classes, one of stipulators and one of stipulatees. In order for IP to be enforced (and not just agreed upon as a rule of a gated community) there must be stipulators who possess a right that other people cannot possibly possess simultaneously, which is the right to stipulate arbitrary terms of IP rights. To be clear, this problem does not arise for objective, inter-subjectively identifiable conditions, because no one has a choice over what those are. The enforcement of IP invariably creates two sets of rights, one that includes the right to change the terms of IP rights and one that excludes the right to change such terms. There is no conceivable enforcement of IP that does not do this. IP cannot be a single, universalized behavioral norm. IP fails the Categorical Imperative test.

Yet we can agree surely this is not an argument but a tautology, one that follows from the definitions of “property right” and, therefore, “theft” and, implicitly, “unlawful” (ie. aggression and aggression only).

No, the argument you cited above is not a definition in disguise. I think this represents the ultimate confusion produced by the positivist-empiricist claim that tautologies are mere linguistic conventions. The only convention is that the concept of aggression as a fundamentally identifiable category of action is notated with the symbolic sequence “aggression”, and that is the only thing anyone is free to change by modifying definitions (definitions merely attach a symbolic sequence to a concept). What matters is that no matter what word you use to describe the concept of aggression, there exists the concept of actors simultaneously recognizing the same things as goods and there existing both mutually beneficial (voluntary) and non-mutually beneficial actions using these goods. This distinction, between mutually beneficial and not mutually beneficial, is not a product of any definition. To be clear, I am speaking only of interactions where two actors both use the same goods, for if one dropped this distinction the distinction between mutually voluntary beneficial could only refer to actions that do not upset anyone in the world and even IP proponents admit that is not the distinction they are trying to make.

The idea that property is really a “means of action” and that this is what really should be/is being “regulated” by the market is ignored.

How is that!? The whole point of the principled anti-IP argument is that property is only means to action and that ideas are *not* means to action, they are the guides to employing means to action, and creative goods are only individually means to action. The abstract class of all instances of creative goods is never a means to action, which is why it’s not property!

Frank Van Dun’s idea that liberty takes precedence over the NAP is ignored – simply assumed away.

Rightly so, though I would hardly call it an assumption, because the whole point of the NAP is that it leads to freedom and is the only principle compatible with freedom. I have not read this article and cannot quarrel with anything he said, but I can quarrel with this interpretation of it. Liberty is the product of the NAP. Like I said earlier, force is the negation of liberty and it makes no sense to suggest that introducing it facilitates liberty.

There really is little mileage in pointing this out any more. Anyone who can’t accept that this argument rests on an assumption that other reasonable people have reasonable reasons not to share is not being reasonable.

Since when has “not sharing” meant “sharing and then telling everyone else what to do with what you have shared”? I always thought not sharing meant keeping all the existing copies to yourself, which would require a physical invasion for others to get those copies. I think what you are saying is it may be reasonable for people to share something and then dictate how it may be used. Well, I suppose you are right. I do think that is unreasonable. Of course I’m really curious as to why you called this “not sharing”? I suspect you realize how absurd your statement would be if you spelled out what it really means.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 12:53 am

the advanced division of labour technological society we all rely on has never existed without IP. It has existed with IP – right now

The advanced division of labor technological society we all rely on has never existed without crime, a central bank, or drug laws either, and yet surely you wouldn’t claim this helps the case that crime, central banks and drug laws help rather than hurt society.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 1:07 am

I only want a debate, based on the principles in the evolution of the common law

So you want a debate based on the principles you advocate?

Well Kid you are not the moderator. I am going to argue from my principles, not yours, and I’m not going to demand that this whole debate take places within my ancap framework.

You don’t want a debate, you want a lecture.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 1:35 am

Much like Kid Salami, I started this discussion with you some time ago with a complete willingness to accept that IP was fundamentally and ethically wrong. I just wanted to understand how reason and logic leads to that conclusion, and I found otherwise.

Why should I believe you? First of all, why should I believe you know anything about what Kid Salami’s true intentions are? Second of all, why should I believe you had a willingness to accept any such thing, especially since your conduct (i.e. constantly calling people ideologues in response to them arguing their points) suggests exactly the opposite? Third, why should I assume you are capable of understanding reason and logic when your strategy has often been to criticize the “obsession” with reason and logic?

In the process I discovered that this is not really a forum or reasonable debate on the substance of the issues;

That is only a testament to how dogmatically attached to your own hasty conclusions you are. I have been debating with you the whole time. I may regard what you claim as insane and ridiculous but at least I give some backing to it. You cannot honestly claim that Kinsella, Peter, nate-m, others and myself have not been debating.

I’m sure by “reasonable” you mean “pro-IP” or, like Kid Salami said, working from the principles you think we should work from.

As an example of what I am saying, I have tackled your problems of externalities and human devices almost every time you bring them up. You responded to my argument concerning human devices with a ridiculously childish rant about how I think so highly of myself (is that what a reasonable debate is, Wildberry?) because I claim to be sure 2 + 2 really is 4. You responded to my argument concerning externalities finally after me presenting it dozens of times before with “you don’t get it”. Is that reasonable debating?

it was a ideological battle between the “enlightened” and “those who have not seen the light”.

No, you just don’t like anarcho-capitalists. That’s really what this has been about the whole time. You don’t like the uber-rationalist philosophical approach, you don’t like the methodology we use to construct theories of property rights, and you apparently really don’t like the conclusions we reach with those methodologies. You never give any substantial reason why. You just don’t like it. You don’t like that I approach theorizing the way I do and think that my insistence to approach it that way is me being “unreasonable” or “ideological” or sucking up to whoever.

I am sorry you are so un-waveringly convinced of the superiority of your way of approaching intellectual problems that you can’t even listen to someone else work within a different framework without casting him off as an “ideologue”.

I’m sorry I am here to defend my viewpoint, not yours.

And as I always point out, I am willing to expose all of my arguments and thought processes concerning IP, and somehow that means I am an ideologue? If I were so ideological why would I waste time sharing anything with you guys? The only reason I do that is because I’m eager for someone to find a hole in it. What I’m not eager for is non-sequitur complaints about why I don’t start my arguments from the starting points my opponent wants me to start from.

Kid Salami September 24, 2011 at 4:52 am

I will try to refine what I said in my last post.

Ok.

The purpose of property rights (ethics) is to determine when and where the use of force (i.e. physical forcing) is justifiable. The question of whether a non-forceful act is justifiable or not is equivalent to the question of whether a forceful response is justifiable or not. If it is ever the case that a forceful response to a non-forceful act is justifiable then that means initiation of force is sometimes justifiable, which contradicts the non-aggression axiom, which is not an assumption but an axiom.

Not a good start. Do you really think I need you to explain this kind of stuff to me? Know your audience – it’s not that I don’t understand the argument, its that I don’t agree. Do you see the difference?

First I would like to appeal to your common sense. Do you really think introducing forceful acts to otherwise peaceful interactions….

See last comment.

Second I would like to be more rigorous. Physical rights must be enforced physically, and compensated with physical transfers. No one doubts that. But it is also true and agreed upon that nonphysical rights must be enforced physically and compensated with physical transfers. It is possible to have a system of legislated “rights” that include nonphysical rights as possible compensation for victims of rights violations. It is conceivable that if one invaded the physical or intellectual rights of another person he may lose his own intellectual, rather than physical, rights in the process. To be clear, this is *never* what happens in practice and I doubt IP proponents are suggesting that getting beaten up by someone results in them having to give you the rights to their song or invention. But it is possible, and they may start suggesting that.

Nice of you to clear that up, a problem that some unspecified “they”, some time in the future, “may start suggesting”. Not sure what on earth this has to do with what I wrote though.

But what is decisive is that there is no conceivable way to
nonphysically enforce nonphysical rights. …

Seriously, how do you think your off the cuff explanations are going to convince me – I’ve heard all this a million times. And you’re talking as if contracts (and implicit terms contained in them) don’t exist – you completely ignore them, possibly since that time you claimed that they should explicitly allow for every possible situation or else they are not valid, which remains near the top of the tree of absurd statements.

“(a) IP rights are just disguised ways of transferring property rights from original owners to state-favored supplicants; and (b) you have not provided a compelling argument why such theft is justified

First of all this is a gross simplification if not an outright straw man.

Ha, hilarious. Stop wasting everyone’s time – I didn’t say these words, I was quoting what Kinsella said – complain to him. Do you read what you respond to? You really are a joke.

The principled case against IP is just a small part of the only principled case for property ever made. It arises naturally through realizing that property rights only arise in-so-far as the means of action (goods) are scarce….”

Yawn.

Physical invasion cannot be universalized as a right because if you physically invade me I cannot physically invade you. Forceful response to physical …”

Yawn.

No, the argument you cited above is not a definition in disguise….”

I don’t agree.

they are the guides to employing means to action

By “guides”, you are using this work as per what Kinsella describes with Tucker in that paper titles something like “Goods scarce and non-scarce” and other places? Like this new word clears everytyhing up? Trust me, I’ve read all that and followed around a few definitions – once you include Kinsella’s “Causation and Aggression” paper in the mix, it becomes a huge circular mess. One day, when I can be arsed, I’m going to write this up and show exactly why.

Rightly so, though I would hardly call it an assumption, because the whole point of the NAP is that it leads to freedom and is the only principle compatible with freedom. I have not read this article and cannot quarrel with anything he said, but I can quarrel with this interpretation of it. Liberty is the product of the NAP. Like I said earlier, force is the negation of liberty and it makes no sense to suggest that introducing it facilitates liberty.

Thank you for just confirming that you discount arguments you haven’t read because they must be wrong because “Liberty is the product of the NAP” – this is what is being debated and you just included it as one of the steps in your argument – I’m sure there’s a phrase for this? I don’t agree – I agree it is a very very good approiximation (and the best short approximation we have by far, as I said to Peter above), but that’s all. In Crusoe economics, its good enough for sure – for an advanced division of labour society like ours, I’m not so sure.

There really is little mileage in pointing this out any more. Anyone who can’t accept that this argument rests on an assumption that other reasonable people have reasonable reasons not to share is not being reasonable.

Since when has “not sharing” meant “sharing and then telling everyone else what to do with what you have shared”? I always thought not sharing meant keeping all the existing copies to yourself, which would require a physical invasion for others to get those copies. I think what you are saying is it may be reasonable for people to share something and then dictate how it may be used. Well, I suppose you are right. I do think that is unreasonable. Of course I’m really curious as to why you called this “not sharing”? I suspect you realize how absurd your statement would be if you spelled out what it really means.

Jesus. Remember those reading comprehensions in school. I always thought they were utterly pointless and wondered why we did them – maybe now I can see why. You can’t have spent more than a millisecond parsing that sentence before turning on your “transmit mode” – if you had, you’d have realised that you totally and utterly misunderstood it, saw the word share (which was in fact referring to the assumption, that others don’t share) and had another word search hit and ranted on about “copies”.

Ok sweatervest, I gave you 15 mins. That’s it I’m afraid. You started by saying

I will try to refine what I said in my last post.

but ignored what I was saying ENTIRELY. You explained, from scratch as always, a big load of stuff I already know and have heard a million times and completely ignored the issue I brought up and which you were, I thought, responding to – that of the “key”. Rather than do as I invited you to, to ask me specific questions about this so I could elucidate and clear up what I mean, you did indeed just “transmit”. You are locked in time like that guy in Memento, constantly regurgitating the same stuff – your responses are generic, they are the same no matter what the question or thread, they are just different andlengthy ways of stating that “Liberty is the product of the NAP”. Sorry, I don’t think its quite so simple.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Kid Salami,

Your entire post can be summed up as, “yeah but the problem with what you are saying is that people disagree with it, plus I’ve already heard this stuff”. To be clear, you did counter-argue a little and I will address that, but complaining that the problem is you disagree with what I say is about as silly as complaining that you posted it during the edit stage.

Not a good start. Do you really think I need you to explain this kind of stuff to me?

Do I need to do a damn background check on you? Once again, apparently I’m supposed to know everything you already know. I have no idea what “needs” to be explained to you. For the record, your posts suggest they do need to be explained to you.

Know your audience

What the hell does that even mean? You are a name on a blog. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

it’s not that I don’t understand the argument, its that I don’t agree. Do you see the difference?

Yes I do. Do you understand that stating your disagreement is not a counter-argument? Oh, well you disagree with what I am saying, so I guess I shouldn’t say it? Why in the world did you think I posted it at all? Maybe because you disagree with it and I am trying to convince you of it.

Are you gonna pretend you even know what debating means>

First I would like to appeal to your common sense. Do you really think introducing forceful acts to otherwise peaceful interactions….

See last comment.

Yes, that is brilliant Kid, you actually disagree with the NAP. Surely that has nothing to do with why I tried appealing to your common sense to convince you to agree with it. Your response, “yeah but I disagree with it”. As you said, Jesus.

Nice of you to clear that up, a problem that some unspecified “they”, some time in the future, “may start suggesting”. Not sure what on earth this has to do with what I wrote though.

You really don’t? You don’t understand what the fact that all enforcement and compensation is physical has to do with criticizing the statement that invasion can only be physical?

It is so obvious you are intent on doing anything with me except debating.

Seriously, how do you think your off the cuff explanations are going to convince me – I’ve heard all this a million times.

And instead of providing a million responses for why you are not convinced, you just say over and over, “I’m not convinced”. Okay I get your strategy: try to convince me that IP is unjustifiable, and I’ll just respond to everything you say with “I’m not convinced”. Let me take a wild guess as to who will “win” that “argument”.

And you’re talking as if contracts (and implicit terms contained in them) don’t exist

No I am not, nothing I posted suggested that. Please give me a quote or paraphrase that lead you to this conclusion. This has nothing to do with contracts. IP rights are an extra set of rights. Contracts do not produce extra rights, they conditionally transfer them.

you completely ignore them, possibly since that time you claimed that they should explicitly allow for every possible situation or else they are not valid, which remains near the top of the tree of absurd statements.

I really like that you said this, because you always proclaim I “miss your points” or purposefully misconstrue what you say, and here is a beautiful example of you doing that to me. If you think this is what I said then you have failed to understand me.

What I said was that a contract that leaves unanswered what should be done in the event of a conflict between the contractors its enforcement cannot possibly resolve the conflict. I never said a contract that isn’t bulletproof isn’t valid, I said it isn’t bulletproof which means that some issues may come up that the contract cannot help to solve, while a more completely laid out contract would have solved it. It is always better for a contract to “allow for every possible situation” because otherwise its enforcement cannot resolve all conflicts that arise over it. That doesn’t mean faulty contracts are invalid, it means they are faulty.

Ha, hilarious. Stop wasting everyone’s time – I didn’t say these words, I was quoting what Kinsella said – complain to him. Do you read what you respond to? You really are a joke.

No, Kid, you are a joke. Kinsella may have stated that but you cast it as “the principled argument against IP”, with extra emphasis on thee.

Furthermore, I never suggested you said that. I only pointed out that it is a gross simplification (I actually meant oversimplification) and possibly straw man. I don’t care who did it. Regardless of what you and Wildberry think Kinsella is not the spokesperson for anti-IP arguments and at least I don’t see him that way. I complained to whoever posted it by posting a response. This is just one of your lame excuses to not respond to what I say. You seem to think this is about you and you being right or wrong, rather than arguments and arguments being valid or invalid.

Yawn.

Yep, that’s about as much as you can say in response to those things. Why don’t I just start responding to all of your posts with “yawn”? I could easily do that…

I don’t agree.

Haha no shit. I made my case, and all you can do is say, “nuh uh”.

By “guides”, you are using this work as per what Kinsella describes with Tucker in that paper titles something like “Goods scarce and non-scarce” and other places?

I don’t know, you are the one who started using that word, but the way I use it is in the obvious way. It means ideas are what tell us how to employ means to action. Ideas are a guide to using means of action. It’s really not that complicated.

Like this new word clears everytyhing up? Trust me, I’ve read all that and followed around a few definitions – once you include Kinsella’s “Causation and Aggression” paper in the mix, it becomes a huge circular mess. One day, when I can be arsed, I’m going to write this up and show exactly why.

Nothing I said has anything to do with any of those papers, none of which I have read. Besides, I do not believe for a second that you are “going to write this up and show exactly why”. You never do that. You’ll just state it again and when I respond you’ll say, “yeah but I disagree with that”.

Thank you for just confirming that you discount arguments you haven’t read because they must be wrong because “Liberty is the product of the NAP”

Thank for you misunderstanding what arguments are once again. I don’t need to read every one’s argument for why liberty and NAP are incompatible to make my argument that they are compatible and necessarily tied together. Once again, your counterargument is simply, “but other arguments exist”. You seem unable or unwilling to respond to my argument that liberty is the product of NAP, which has been the point of my whole post. All that matters is that someone else said otherwise.

this is what is being debated and you just included it as one of the steps in your argument – I’m sure there’s a phrase for this?

No I explained why, and you ignored it. Force is the negation of liberty, which means that the only use of force that is compatible with liberty is force in response to other force. If the goal is to maximize liberty then that also means to minimize force, which means the only appropriate use of force is in to stop other uses of force, which means it never helps the case of liberty to initiate force. That’s not assuming my conclusion, that is reaching my conclusion with an argument.

I don’t agree – I agree it is a very very good approiximation (and the best short approximation we have by far, as I said to Peter above), but that’s all. In Crusoe economics, its good enough for sure – for an advanced division of labour society like ours, I’m not so sure.

And that’s it!? Dear lord. Obviously I disagree with this. It is not an approximation of anything, it is a description of property and how it works, in all cases. I have made my case, you have not made yours. You just remind me that, and this is truly shocking, we’re not on the same side of this debate!

Jesus. Remember those reading comprehensions in school. I always thought they were utterly pointless and wondered why we did them – maybe now I can see why. You can’t have spent more than a millisecond parsing that sentence before turning on your “transmit mode”

Oh here we go again. Apparently reading comprehension means realizing how words don’t mean what they mean. You are criticizing IP abolitionists of suggesting that it is unreasonable to ever have a reasonable reason to “not share”. This is a complete misrepresentation, a complete straw man, and you know it. No IP abolitionist has ever suggested that people be compelled to share anything when they don’t want to share it. You are a liar for saying anybody says that because you know damn well it’s not the case.

I nailed why your paragraph there is dead wrong and that the only way you could get away with it is by masking what “not sharing” really means in the context of an IP debate, which is sharing and then dictating how people use what is shared. If you think the IP debate concerns anything else then you are confused and mistaken. And I know you know damn well that’s what it is about.

I nailed why your paragraph is dead wrong and your response is a childish dodging of the issue. Like I didn’t comprehend you? I comprehended exactly what you said and clarified why it is a dishonest misrepresentation of what you are going up against. Apparently you get embarrassed and desperately reached for your standard sophistical defense: I started “transmitting”, aka arguing, and crushed your nonsense.

if you had, you’d have realised that you totally and utterly misunderstood it, saw the word share (which was in fact referring to the assumption, that others don’t share) and had another word search hit and ranted on about “copies”.

No Kid you are full of shit. You were trying to suggest that IP abolitionists want to forbid people from sharing and if you don’t admit that you are a lying sophist.

Ok sweatervest, I gave you 15 mins. That’s it I’m afraid.

Haha you really do think you are the moderator, don’t you? You do not give me anything. You either choose to give yourself a defensive position in this debate or you choose to exit it and relinquish your position in the process. You don’t get to “grant” me an ability to participate here. The only thing you control is whether or not you defend your position or exit the debate. You gave yourself 15 min, not me, and if that’s all you are going to do, then I win by default. That doesn’t mean my position is established as the correct one, but it means I won the debate, because you ran away from it with your tail between your legs.

but ignored what I was saying ENTIRELY.

No I didn’t, which is why you can’t back this claim up. I responded to what you posted and if you cannot see the relevance of my responses then maybe you should go back to reading comprehension class instead of telling everyone else they need to do that.

You explained, from scratch as always

Oh my god excuse me from trying to start from scratch. How ridiculous someone would try to begin their arguments from the most basic starting point possible.

a big load of stuff I already know and have heard a million times

Haha well I’m sorry you don’t counterargue. If you did we could move on from step 1 and this debate would actually get somewhere. It is not my fault you respond to these things with “but I disagree” which only warrants re-presenting the same arguments to you again. If maybe you said why you disagree then the debate would move forward, but you don’t do that.

and completely ignored the issue I brought up and which you were, I thought, responding to – that of the “key”.

I also explicitly explained why and you either skipped over it or ignored it. This is your strategy to be the moderator of this argument, but insisting that the only appropriate posts are answers to your question, a question that you yourself admitted is off topic! No, I don’t give a shit about your key, a problem that I already addressed by pointing out the key copy is a bad, not a good, and that is why it is beneficial to destroy it. Of course you didn’t counter-respond, you did exactly what you are doing here: “I’ve heard this before, I disagree, so there”.

Rather than do as I invited you to, to ask me specific questions about this so I could elucidate and clear up what I mean, you did indeed just “transmit”.

Yeah, I rejected your invitation. You don’t control this debate Kid Salami. I’m not here to do what you invite me to do. I invited myself to enter this public forum and argue my points. I don’t care what your invitations are. Your invitation is an attempt to assert control over this argument and dictate how it flows. I am not doing that.

Questions are not arguments.

You are locked in time like that guy in Memento, constantly regurgitating the same stuff

Really? The main point of my posting in the last thread was that the utilitarian case for IP is a form of the broken window fallacy whereby the incentives to produce something are raised by keeping the supply low and therefore the marginal utility high. Please show me where, in a thread before that, I made this point.

The only thing I regurgitate is my starting point. As I said, you have the attention span of an ADD kid and apparently can’t make it past me stating my premises.

your responses are generic, they are the same no matter what the question or thread, they are just different andlengthy ways of stating that “Liberty is the product of the NAP”. Sorry, I don’t think its quite so simple.

Gee, maybe you would have noticed that I *do* think it’s quite so simple. So it’s your word against mine. Oops, wait, you just admitted I elaborate on my case and yet you don’t elaborate you yours. And, no, my responses are not generic nor are they the same no matter what the question is. I have tackled this issue from many different angles. In fact I have changed my position on some things. In particular I began arguing that ideas are non-scarce goods and that is why they are not property, but I later changed my mind and started arguing that ideas are not goods at all because it never makes sense to employ an idea, it only makes sense to employ a physical good as guided by an idea.

So in other words I provided examples of why your claim is wrong after you provided no examples of why it is right.

I’m sick of your ad hominem bitching Kid Salami. It is such a load of crap to suggest I never comprehend what you say. This is what people do when they constantly spoon out nonsense and then someone shoves into their faces what nonsense it really is. You are too stubborn and immature (as further evidence by you thinking this debate is about whether or not you are scared to respond to me) to admit that what you said is completely wrong and essentially a lie about what you are arguing against, so you do what anyone could do in that situation: exclaim you didn’t mean that, you have been misrepresented, and the other person needs schooling in reading comprehension.

You are not the only person who does this. Plenty of people spout nothing by nonsense and when that is pointed out to them they refuse to accept that they were really spouting a bunch of nonsense.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

That last post is riddled with errors. There are many typos and that last big block quote is part of my response. Hopefully those will not be too distracting.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm

There may be cases where there is a conflict between claims on behalf of one person’s freedom and claims on behalf of another person’s private property. In such cases, the question arises, which claims should prevail? Unquestionably, the libertarian answer should be freedom before property. Unfortunately, many libertarians are reluctant to give up the conception of “freedom as property” that (1) serves them so well in their critiques of interventionism and collectivism and (2) underpins their notion that the law of a libertarian order is merely the rigorous application of the so-called nonaggression principle.

The logical link between “freedom as property” and the nonaggression principle is the definition of aggression as an invasion of another person’s property for any purpose other than getting restitution of one’s property from, or securing compensation for damages resulting from a previous aggression committed by, that person. Thus, according to the nonaggression principle, only aggressive invasions of another’s property are unlawful and every act of any other kind is lawful. In practical terms, libertarian judges have no right to authorize interference with nonaggressive acts, and libertarian enforcement agencies have no right to enforce any unilateral prohibition or restriction of such acts. However, if freedom is the supreme libertarian value, this will not do.

This is a bunch of nonsense! What “freedom” exists beyond the right to use physical property!? Freedom should prevail over property?

Well, yes. Kinsella was exactly right, this is an honest admission of at least partly siding with violent criminals because the only thing it could possibly mean for “freedom” to overcome property is when a person is free to take the property of others! All action is in the physical world. Your “freedom” is ethereal nonsense until it becomes the basis for doing something with physical goods. Moreover, freedom is meaningful only to the extent that you are in exclusive control of physical goods to be used to manipulate other physical goods (your body and homesteaded goods). The exercise of any freedom is precisely the use of some physical property, and either therefore an exercise of one’s physical property rights or (and this is how property is designed to function) necessarily a violation of someone else’s physical property rights.

The whole point of property is that it cleanly separates actions so that every action is either an exercise of property rights (obviously physical because we are physical beings living in a physical world, and no I am not ignoring the mental world, but we don’t live and act in the mental world) or a violation of someone’s property rights.

The only thing it could possibly mean for freedom to reign over property is for someone’s property to get confiscated by someone else. This is the cry of a libertine, who has bastardized the concept of freedom to mean exactly what it is supposed to *not* mean, which is “I can do whatever I want”. The whole point of the concept of liberty is that freedom is a two-way street and the way everyone’s freedom gets balanced is through a thing called property. If your freedom prevails over my property rights then your freedom eclipses my freedom and no advocacy for freedom could establish your gain in freedom as more important or significant than my loss in freedom.

Once again, aggression is defined as physical invasion because that is the relevant fundamental category of action. Property rights are not just two words people decided to start using, they are a specific system (a human device as some may say) that fulfills a specific function and therefore must be designed and implemented in the one correct way in order to fulfill that function. The function is to resolve conflicts. It cannot guarantee that all conflicts be resolved, it only provides a means to resolve conflicts when they arise. A conflict is only resolved when all involved parties agree it is resolved, and by definition the initiation of force cannot be agreed upon by the person being forced. When people are upset by the fact that others acted a certain way that did not involve physical manipulation of their physical property, this cannot meaningfully be called “aggression” because, depending on how much other people care, any action can be called aggression so long as someone doesn’t like it and it fails to categorize anything, it merely becomes a synonym for action. The only real distinction to be made is when the physical goods one is employing (and my interpretation of homesteading is that when you permanently transform a good you are always employing it, even in its absence, like a house, and everyone else can recognize that, though they may ignore it anyways) are employed by someone else without consent of the original user, and this is by definition not agreed upon by the original user and cannot be called a resolution of any conflict.

The last part about what libertarian judges could do is also nonsense. The very concept of “interference with nonaggressive acts” is empty! How in the world could anyone interfere non-aggressively!? The only thing this could possibly refer to is that sometimes A sees B doing something with B’s property that doesn’t involve A or A’s property at all but A doesn’t like it and wants to aggressively interfere with B! Calling that a non-aggressive interference with A is just dishonest (that way everything becomes interference as soon as someone else starts to care). I don’t know if that is what he is trying to do, but if it’s not that I don’t see what else interference via non-aggression could possibly mean.

If freedom doesn’t mean property then it is not a two-way street and it would be impossible for everyone to be free. Yeah, some people could be free, at the expense of the freedom of everyone else. All this ethereal stuff is really dishonest I think. At the end of the day it always comes back to what people can do physically with physical goods.

Kid Salami September 25, 2011 at 6:23 am

I admit this is a consistent position, but I think it has consequences which proponents thereof probably do not agree with. I can’t imagine anyone advocating consistent application of such a rule. Hypothetically though, you are right….. My point is that you’re constructing positions that noone is advocating. Why should I (or Stephan, or sweatervest) then address them if noone is advocating them? When someone starts advocating them, then I will confront them.

Once again, I’m not advocating it – I have my own reasons why I’m not doing it and why I think others don’t advocate it. I want to know the reasons of someone advocating the NAP, one which will of course be consistent with their overall position.

That is, say I, hypothetically, choose to advocate this position. I go to walk across some land one day, which has no’one on it (ie. it is not currently in use or possessed), and you use force to expel me because you say the fence and crops I just walked over signify that I can no longer walk over this land.I call you an “aggressor” for this behaviour. You call me an aggressor for walking on land you “homesteaded”, a word I don’t recognise as having any significance. There has to be some justification for why you don’t consider yourself an aggressor.

Kinsella said:

If you say that no one can ever own it b/c homesteading a resource restricts others’ potential liberty, then you are making a sort of Georgist-Lockean-proviso argument that means NO property can ever be homesteaded, even movable property–for there is no relevant distinction between an apple and a bucket of water and a tract of land–all are scarce resources. If you can’t ever own land you can’t own anything else, even including your own body; and all civilized life would be impossible.

and I believe you agreed – that “there is no relevant distinction between an apple and a bucket of water”. So, is this it?

sweatervest September 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm

That is, say I, hypothetically, choose to advocate this position. I go to walk across some land one day, which has no’one on it (ie. it is not currently in use or possessed), and you use force to expel me because you say the fence and crops I just walked over signify that I can no longer walk over this land.I call you an “aggressor” for this behaviour. You call me an aggressor for walking on land you “homesteaded”, a word I don’t recognise as having any significance. There has to be some justification for why you don’t consider yourself an aggressor.

Well you need to provide more details in order for answer to be possible because you have not clarified if any homesteading has actually taken place. Building a fence is not a homesteading of the enclosed land, and I would agree that if you climbed over a fence into some wild land and someone tried to force you off that would be aggression. The fence-builder can force you off the fence, because he does own the fence, but he does not own the enclosed land just because he built the fence.

So I think in this case you are mistaken in thinking a NAP proponent would not consider the act of forcing someone off land aggression. But the situation changes if the land is not wild, but very clearly the product of some human action. A farm doesn’t just appear in nature, it is the product of human action and any human can distinguish a farm from a wild growth of plants. Now you say you reject the word homestead of not being of any significance, which I assume really means you reject the concept of homesteading (surely the word used doesn’t matter), aka permanently transforming through human action, but frankly I doubt that.

If you were walking through the woods I don’t think you would have any reservations about walking through wilderness, but if you come upon a plot of land, even without a fence, that was obviously the product of human action (say a small farm, or a trap laid to catch an animal, etc.) you would have some reservation about walking over it and especially confiscating or damaging it in any way (or even just using it in any way). You would recognize that this thing is here by the effort of someone else and that, because it was made by a human, it belongs to some human, and it does not belong to you.

I dare say the legitimacy of homesteading is built into your nature as a human being. That doesn’t mean you won’t walk over the farm or confiscate the animal trap, but I will bet you would pause for at least a second and have to rationalize such an action, and convince yourself it really is okay for you to do that.

sweatervest September 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Oh, as for your question of what the justification is for forcing someone off land that *is* homesteaded, that can be seen by realizing that if the original user/transformer (the homesteader) cannot justifiably force people off then certainly no one else can justifiably force people off. If the 1st user is unjustified in doing that then certainly the 2nd or 3rd user, etc. would be equally if not more unjustified in doing the same thing.

So if a plot of land can only comfortably be used by one person at a time, and the 1st user and 2nd user both want to use it at the same time, then they must either agree to work something out, in which case there is no conflict, or one must force the other off. The only relevant question then is who is *more* justified in kicking the other one off, the 1st user or the 2nd user? And if anyone is more justified it would be the 1st user, for it hardly makes any sense that the 1st user has no right to the land but the 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th, etc. user does have a right to it. If anyone has a right to it the only sensible choice is the 1st user, not one of the later users.

sweatervest September 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I forgot to say, the point of homesteading I think is that when you permanently transform a nature-given good into a good that is not nature-given, that good is in permanent employment by an actor. If I grow a farm I do not need to be physically on the farm to be employing it. The very idea of employment in absence must be tied to transforming the good in question into something that would not otherwise be there. It would make no sense to say one is employing a nature-given good in its absence, because such a claim is not tied to any action. The action of claiming one is employing a good is an action that employs one’s vocal cords (or some other body part), not an action that employs the good in question. In order for employment in absence to be praxeologically meaningful it must be tied to a previous and still identifiable use of a good, which is equivalent to transforming it permanently into a non-nature-given good.

That is why it is not aggression by the person forcing off homesteaded land but aggression by the person trespassing onto the homesteaded land. Even if the 2nd user wants to use the land when the 1st user is absent from the land, he is still interfering with the 1st user because the 1st user is permanently using the land, even in his absence, because the land is now permanently a non-nature-given good tied to the actions of the homesteader.

Andras September 25, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Now I understand what is going on here in the west. Vast desert land is fenced with a few hungry cows wandering around. I thought it was just plain animal cruelty but no!
You fence it and let loose a few cattle. These animals ensure that you have satisfied the current rules of homesteading, i.e., permanent use. Ingenious! I wonder if you need cattle or prairie dogs or coyotes will do? Their hides are very rare fashion accessories. And what about ostriches, will they do?

sweatervest September 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm

These animals ensure that you have satisfied the current rules of homesteading, i.e., permanent use. Ingenious! I wonder if you need cattle or prairie dogs or coyotes will do? Their hides are very rare fashion accessories. And what about ostriches, will they do?

This is clearly not true. I explained that to homestead is to permanently transform a good into a good that is not nature-given. Letting a few of your animals wander around on land does not transform the land through human action. Your emphasis on “a few” only implies there is no transforming at all. The land is still wild. Another actor could not come along and notice that the land has been transformed into a product of human action, because it hasn’t. You have not transformed the land, you just let your animals wander around on it.

What you have noticed is governments making mere decrees of ownership. A verbal decree is certainly not an act of homesteading, and at most you have witnessed a farmer or some other individual “buying” a big plot of land from a government that does not rightfully own it because they never homesteaded it (and many times never even touched it) and no one can sell land they don’t rightfully own.

It is not homesteading that lead to this, which I agree is a travesty. Rather, it is the disrespect for homesteading illustrated by the fact some government drew lines on a map and proclaimed everything inside the lines their own, and then “sold” big chunks of this land to people who also have no claim of ownership even though their claims are backed by the presiding legal system. In fact, complaining about this suggests you think homesteading *is* legitimate, i.e. if you transformed some of that land yourself you *would* own it, no matter what the government or the buyers of “government property” have to say about it.

sweatervest September 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm

To be clear, even letting a lot of animals roam around on land doesn’t homestead the land because no amount of animals using a land counts as transforming the land into a non-nature-given good.

Wildberry September 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm

@Peter Surda September 21, 2011 at 1:49 am

Correct, dummy. That is the point you moron.

Peter Surda September 22, 2011 at 1:51 am

Wildberry,

That is the point you moron.

On the contrary, that disproves IP, because there is no reason why certain economic laws should be valid for externalities that are addressed by IP and externalities that are not. You fail to address an elementary logical error in the argument.

Boooriiiing, also you switched to ad hominems which would only decrease your credibility, if you had any left.

Nuke Gray September 22, 2011 at 2:33 am

As though that last line is not an ad-hominem!

Peter Surda September 22, 2011 at 5:47 am

Got any arguments yet Nuke?

Oztrian September 21, 2011 at 6:49 am

Save us from the cooperation-less dead-ends of a patent-free world!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiles'_proof_of_Fermat's_Last_Theorem

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

It seems your implicit political theory here is something like this: a law is justified if it attempts to foster cooperation and prevent inventors from having to work for external economies. Is that it? If so, where do you get this political theory from? If not, why bring it up?

Andras September 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

An attempt to qualify the absolute qualifies you not the absolute.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am

Why do you even have an opinion? It’s bizarre. Your thinking is so unclear as to defy belief.

Andras September 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I answered your riposte.

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm

You answered nothing, you intellectual fraud. I tire of you pygmies.

Oztrian September 21, 2011 at 6:36 am

Not another libertarian making economic arguments for state coercion?

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 10:03 am

Asking a question is not an argument. A citizen in the USSR might ask “How would toothpaste be made in a free market? How would I choose between all the brands?” fine questions, but they are not arguemnts against getting rid of communism. that fact that you are confused is not relevant.

Andras September 21, 2011 at 10:26 am

“Thomas Smith September 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm:
In a patent-free world, how do you calculate or estimate the cost to the economy of inventions that aren’t developed because they can’t be patented and as such aren’t deemed profitable?

Put the other way, how do you measure the benefits to the economy in terms of things that have been invented which are here with us only because patents make them profitable?”

He just simply asked you why had you ignored these?
Or what is your argument for ignoring these?

nate-m September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am

“”Put the other way, how do you measure the benefits to the economy in terms of things that have been invented which are here with us only because patents make them profitable?”"

You really can’t accurately measure something like that.

Just like you can’t measure the damage caused to the economy due to the thwarting of competition and destruction/distortion of the true impetuous for innovation that is a result of the current patent regime.

There is no way to account accurately for the ‘could of been’.

John P. September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am

I never understand the logic behind could have beens.

Oh you are wrong because you conceive what an infinitely variable future will look like if you change this variable.

Can you conceive of a future if WW2 never happened? No possible way. So why do they ask what would a future look like if the patent regime never happened.

Before you could patent software did innovations never happen? Did programmers and companies flee the country? Did the computing industry come to a stand still? What about genetics? You couldn’t patent genetics works until recently as well. Did innovations stop?

Stephan Kinsella September 21, 2011 at 11:36 am

Not only that: even if they DID “stop” (impossible to imagine, really), so what? Is it the job of the state to enact laws to ensure we have “enough” innovation? Really? These guys are off their rockers.

John P. September 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I wasn’t clear on the last sentence, I don’t think. I meant did innovations stop because there wasn’t a way to patent genetics.

Wildberry September 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

John P.

Your sense of history is a little distorted. Patents existed long before software did. Same with computers. You have to pick an exampe before 1790, I believe.

As I said above one of the first recorded patent laws was in the 1400′s in Vienna. So your question is rather difficult to answer, despite Kinsella’s mindless support of your sentiments. All he saw is that you were perhaps against IP, so your question was a good one; “Not only that…” Honestly.

John P. September 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Yes but most software patents weren’t honered till the 1990′s. That is what I am getting at. It was considered a mathematical forumula. Here is a link to a little bit of history about software patent law history.

http://www.bitlaw.com/software-patent/history.html

My question is impossible to answer. That is the whole reason I asked it. My ultimate point was, that despite the fact that most software wasn’t patentable till the 1990′s, we still had a high amount innovation occuring.

nate-m September 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm

the vast majority of software developments were never patented. If they were we all would be in a world of hurt right now. I doubt that computer science would of been able to produce the current level of technology if they depended on patents to achieve anything.

Now that we have software patents the progress in computer science has dropped off significantly. The market is now increasingly controlled by a smaller number of politically connected enterprises. People trying to shake up the market or release new products that are cheaper and solve unique problems are smashed over and over again by large entrenched players. People who have no interest in seeing innovations in the market and will use their patents to ruin the ability for smaller players to compete.

PATENTS: If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry
would be at a complete standstill today. I feel certain that some large
company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation,
algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique. If we assume this
company has no need of any of our patents then the have a 17-year right to take
as much of our profits as they want. The solution to this is patent exchanges
with large companies and patenting as much as we can. Amazingly we havn’t
done any patent exchanges tha I am aware of. Amazingly we havn’t found a
way to use our licensing position to avoid having our own customers cause
patent problems for us. I know these aren’t simply problems but they deserve
more effort by both Legal and other groups. For example we need to do a
patent exchange with HP as part of our new relationship. In many application
categories straighforward thinking ahead allows you to come up with
patentable ideas. A recent paper from the League for Programming Freedom
(available from the Legal department) explains some problems with the
way patents are applied to software.

– Bill Gates “Challenges and Strategy” memo, May 16 1991

nate-m September 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Oh. And software makes a interesting case study. The vast majority of innovations were created prior to people patenting it.

With other forms of innovation the patent distortions on the market has been around for hundreds of years. So it’s very difficult to point out obvious examples of why patents are nothing but shit. We are stuck with ‘could of beens’ and trying to add up costs to market.

But with software it’s very obvious and it’s easy to see what innovation was like prior to patents and what it is like after patents. And software patents are a unmitigated disaster for almost everybody involved.

Their sole function into today’s market has been reduced to:
A) Make dishonest lawyers rich
B) Prevent competition in the market. Large established players use patents (and cross patent licensing schemes) as a defensive weapon against smaller, more nimble competitors.

Matthew Swaringen September 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm

This is an excellent point, and a window I think into what the world would be like without patents. Now if we could all get the IP advocates people to think it through like those of us who do develop software that would be great.

We can imagine the horrible freezes in innovation that would occur if no one was able to improve on programs without waiting 17 years for a patent to expire. And yet software is every bit as complex as the hardware that is patented, so it’s not as though on the merits of complexity software doesn’t “deserve” patents.

But it’s obvious to almost any software developer that not being able to improve a piece of functionality for 17 years by emulating, improving, and extending is a horrible idea.

When people write software it’s almost never to create something entirely new, but to improve on something that already exists.

Real life machinery is not all that different. People come up with the same ideas on extending and improving on existing designs but they are restricted by patents and we can never know the people who didn’t even bother because of them. We can’t see the unseen, but we can see that software development without patents worked beautifully, and even with patents it’s not as bad as it would be without the open source movement which largely just ignores the patents.

Andras September 22, 2011 at 12:40 am

@nate-m & Matthew,
Your argument is littered with the word obvious. According to patent law, obvious things can not be patented. So you blame the law for something that is explicitly against. Wouldn’t this one thing alone be obeyed and enforced could improve a lot in the current situation? Hasn’t this thing already been addressed in the new patent law? And could it has been better addressed if there were a real debate here? Instead, we fight false preaching from the ivory tower.

nate-m September 22, 2011 at 3:20 am

Your argument is littered with the word obvious. According to patent law, obvious things can not be patented.

Things tend to be obvious when their time arrives. New ideas are just renditions of existing ones with small twists and modifications. If the patents were really over stuff that was ‘truly non-obvious’ we wouldn’t be arguing against them.. their existence and influence in the market place would be so rare as to be a non-issue.

Of course the term ‘non-obvious’ is extremely subjective. What is obvious to you or me can be very non-obvious to other people.

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/appxl_35_U_S_C_103.htm

All this means is that whether or something is obvious is just pure speculation and subjective judgement and whether or not somebody tried to patent something similar in the past.

Defined what is ‘obvious’. Define what is ‘ordinary skill’. All it does is just serves to make the system more cumbersome and expensive to deal with. It’s almost impossible to defeat a ‘obvious’ patent in court and if you can the legal costs are so high that it’s self destructive to even attempt it.

It’s quite possible we would be slightly better off eliminating the ‘non-obvious’ clause altogether since it will make it more obvious to people what patents actually are.

So you blame the law for something that is explicitly against.

I am blaming the law for what it actually does and it’s actual effects. I hate it for the destruction and loss of personal freedom it represents.

Wouldn’t this one thing alone be obeyed and enforced could improve a lot in the current situation?

I have no idea how you could do that. Even if you could improve the quality of patent examination it would just mean that it would be even more expensive and difficult to defeat patents in the courts. I don’t see what the benefit would be.

Hasn’t this thing already been addressed in the new patent law?

I don’t think it is something that can be fixed. The entire concept is just flawed and destructive. The only real improvement you could get would be to raise the burden of getting patents to such a high degree that almost nobody could get them.

And could it has been better addressed if there were a real debate here?

Signs point to no. There really isn’t much of a debate going on actually.

Instead, we fight false preaching from the ivory tower.

Pointing out that patents are fundamentally flawed, that they harm personal freedom, and that they are destructive to the market place is not false preaching.

What you are saying is like saying:
Mafia Loan sharking wouldn’t be so bad if you trained the guys that break debtor’s legs with better karate skills. That way instead of breaking their legs with 2 or 3 swings of the bat it can be done with one. That way it won’t take as long for them to heal and make it more likely they can pay their loans back and thus be more likely to avoid their murder in the future.

Improving the quality of villainy is not really what our goals as a society should be

Matthew Swaringen September 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm

What’s obvious to one person who is very knowledgeable about a given thing is not so obvious to another.

If patent law truly worked on the obviousness test there are many many patents that wouldn’t exist, if not all of them.

Please try to find a patent that you think is not obvious at all, even to an expert in that specific area if you want to try to prove your point. Good luck.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 2:30 am

Can you conceive of a future if WW2 never happened? No possible way.

Sure you can. This is the essence of science. Physics predicts what would have happened in a simple experiment with different initial conditions. History is just really, really complicated and therefore more speculative (hypothetical, as is, for example, earth sciences). History is never just a collection of events. The focus of history is the connection between events, how one thing helps cause or helps prevent a certain outcome, with the real outcome being the combination of all the initial conditions and connections.

In fact, history would be utterly useless and empty if it did not have hypotheticals behind it. If all one said was “X happened, then Y happened, then Z happened, …) then there would be no point to it. The past is done and cannot be changed. Why would people care about the past unless it is to discern the connections between events that are independent of time, and therefore valid in the future, which can be changed?

As soon as one says “X was caused by or facilitated by Y” one is dealing with counter-factual history. It is saying that X either would not have happened without Y or would have happened less without Y, *all other things held constant* (the last part cannot be stressed enough). The principle content of factual history is counter-factual claims, particularly what could *not* have happened as a guide to determining what really did happen and why.

Before you could patent software did innovations never happen? Did programmers and companies flee the country? Did the computing industry come to a stand still? What about genetics? You couldn’t patent genetics works until recently as well. Did innovations stop?

Who is saying that would happen? That’s like saying a central bank exists, a central bank is bad for the economy, therefore there can be no economy and a central bank. That is not the claim. Saying IP inhibits rather than helps creative production does not imply the two cannot be coincident. It is a counter-factual claim, specifically that all other things being the same, if IP were absent from this (or any) country there would be more creative production and innovation than how much there actually is.

Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 8:03 am

See Hoppe on what the world would look like if there had been no WWI and WWII:
http://mises.org/resources.aspx?Id=cdb4f473-c7f9-4a4c-9d49-d3d7108c3dab

If the United States had followed a strict non-interventionist foreign policy, it is likely that the intra-European conflict would have ended in late 1916 or early 1917 as the result of several peace initiatives, most notably by the Austrian Emperor Charles I. Moreover, the war would have been concluded with a mutually acceptable and face-saving compromise peace rather than the actual dictate. Consequently, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia would have remained traditional monarchies instead of being turned into short-lived democratic republics. With a Russian Czar and a German and Austrian Kaiser in place, it would have been almost impossible for the Bolsheviks to seize power in Russia, and in reaction to a growing communist threat in Western Europe, for the Fascists and National Socialists to do the same in Italy and Germany.[8] Millions of victims of communism, national socialism, and World War II would have been saved. The extent of government interference with and control of the private economy in the United States and in Western Europe would never have reached the heights seen today. And rather than Central and Eastern Europe (and consequently half of the globe) falling into communist hands and for more than forty years being plundered, devastated, and forcibly insulated from Western markets, all of Europe (and the entire globe) would have remained integrated economically (as in the nineteenth century) in a world-wide system of division of labor and cooperation. World living standards would have grown immensely higher than they actually have.
Before the backdrop of this thought experiment and the actual course of events, the American system and the pax Americana appear – contrary to “official” history, which is always written by its victors, i.e., from the perspective of the proponents of democracy – to be nothing short of an unmitigated disaster; and Habsburg-Austria and the pre-democratic age appear most appealing.[9] Certainly, then, it would be worthwhile to take a systematic look at the historic transformation from monarchy to democracy.

Dale B. Halling September 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm
nate-m September 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

That blog post is about as content-free as you can get. What a tool.

Sione September 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Well, those of us who make a living from innovation and new technology do it. Unfortunately there are a lot of you who have no real experience but sure do like to talk and talk and talk all about it. Talking aint doing though. Doing is doing.

In my experience patents are expensive and a waste of time and money for us to have to deal with at all. They provide little or no real motivation to innovate and little or no “protection” for those of us who do innovate. Much (the vast majority of) innovation is undertaken by individuals- the little guys, the little guys who do not have the massive resources, let alone time, available to undertake patent adventures and litigation and sitting down to “negotiate” with professional parasites, leaches, rortists, thieves, tricksters, bullshit artists, mobsters and the like. Who really wants to deal with this sort of thing? Perhaps the talkers do, but they aint innovators, they’re just talkers and as such their opinions are not worth consideration really.

The reason to innovate is to provide a product or service to customers and/or to enjoy the intellectual challenges of a particular problem solving process. Part of the motivation is to be first. In my case it is to be first to market- get there before the competition does. That way I maximise my return on time and on investment and make a healthy profit. As soon as the rest of the market moves to follow, I move to extend my lead with further improvement (more innovation) or move on to something new or something else altogether.

Sione

Nuke Gray September 21, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Sione, that sounds good, and a good way to get small-scale improvements into products. But would that work for something complex? When I mention drugs and pharmaceutical companies, it is because many of these drugs took years to develop, and patent protection helps them to recoup their initial costs. (Indeed, the inventor Harvey Reese, in his book “The 12 amazing secrets of Millionaire Inventors”, actually recommends your approach for some types of new products- whilst recommending patents for the rest!) But what if your company literally stumbled on a cheap anti-gravity device? Wouldn’t you want to patent something that would have world-wide reach and market potential?

nate-m September 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm

The problem with pharmaceutical can be solved by getting rid of things like the FDA. The reason barriers are so high and so expensive is because the laws and restrictions placed on the market.

FDA seems like a good idea on the surface, but one must realize that the FDA derives little benefit from approving drugs. If people die from a disease it’s the disease’s fault, right? But if people die from a drug then whose fault is that? Politically speaking the fallout on the FDA can be enormous. But what if people die because drugs that could be on the market never made it because they cannot make it past FDA’s barriers? It’s much more difficult for the public to wrap it’s head around the fact that people may die because of a ‘could of been’. Very few people understand this and thus the political pressure is small.

So the people in the FDA derives very little to no personal benefit from approving drugs. They don’t make money from doing a good job, they make money regardless… whether or not drugs get approved they make the same amount of money. They are bureaucrats whose only function is to isolate themselves from risk because risk has no potential for benefit. Very risk adverse.

‘Big Pharma’ probably railed against the FDA when it first came on the scene. But as a response the barriers that FDA put up and the huge financial burden placed on these pharma corporations they have gained a huge amount of political traction.

Now with the advent of patents, market controls (it’s illegal to buy competitively priced drugs from Mexico or Canada, for example), public healthcare welfare programs (medicare, medicaide, Obama’s health care program, etc etc) their profits are now enforced by law. If you don’t give them money you may die. If you try to compete with them you go to jail. etc etc.

The market is not free. It’s not competitive. It’s one distortion layered on another. It’s necessary to use the government to enforce patents because the government made it necessary to use patents to gain enough money to make it past the government’s bureaucrats. These barriers are designed to insure the profitability of certain large corporations, not protect the public or promote progress as people are lead to believe.

Paul September 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

But what if your company literally stumbled on a cheap anti-gravity device? Wouldn’t you want to patent something that would have world-wide reach and market potential?

Who wouldn’t? If I made paperclips, I’d want a worldwide monopoly on paperclips, too. Doesn’t make it right and proper to grant such a monopoly, though!

Nuke Gray September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Like Kinsella, you leave off the qualifier that Wildberry used- ‘limited monopoly’. the time limit does change the argument.
As for it being right and proper, only the owner of property could do that. I am not an anarcho-capitalist, because I think someone will own and licence the roads and other public spaces, so I believe in reforming the current system and giving control of public spaces and lands and roads to local councils- as the rulers of such spaces, they could licence and limit the transport of, and advertising for, goods and messages over their spaces and lands. This would be my justification for a copyright and patent system.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 9:05 am

hahaha, this is wild. At least you admit statism is required for IP law.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

We have IP because we have the State!
Hate the State!!

Slogans R Us…

Nuke Gray September 23, 2011 at 12:22 am

Stephan, do i need to keep repeating that I am not a rothbardian, or an anarcho-capitalist? Naturally, this means that I think the alternative is some sort of government entity, often called a state, though the word seems to have so many meanings that I grow wary of using it. (Incidentally, since anarchism is historically associated with communes and small-scale majoritarianism, why don’t anarcho-capitalists call themselves by the shorter title of Free Anarchists? Free from states AND communes?)

Stephan Kinsella September 23, 2011 at 12:41 am

Stephan, do i need to keep repeating that I am not a rothbardian, or an anarcho-capitalist? Naturally, this means that I think the alternative is some sort of government entity, often called a state, though the word seems to have so many meanings that I grow wary of using it.

Whose fault is this? The advocates of the state, who equivocate on “government” to waffle back and forth–shhh, it only means “law”; no no, it means state, and you’ve already agreed to this, since you agree we need law and order.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:55 am

We have IP because we have the State!
Hate the State!!

Slogans R Us…

I’m sorry, is this a criticism of principled opposition to states?

Hate Violent Criminals!! Welcome to the Slogan club, Wildberry.

Sione September 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Nuke

Does it really matter what some talker put in his own book? Who cares? Where is the relevance? He hasn’t the direct experience and he isn’t in the business- hardly matters what he’d recomend. He just isn’t committed enough to innovation to matter a whit. If he was, he’d be out there doing… And here is one of the main troubles with talkers, apart from most generally being wrong, they are not the ones doing the doing. Yet they form arbitrary and unimportant opinions based on impressions, slanted interpretations, talk, their own prejudices and preconceived ideas, false premise and a lack of real knowledge or real experience. They are not comitted to doing, just to talking (and they are probably not even commited to that, merely involved in it).

If an innovation takes years to develop, the question is, so what? Practitioners (whether sole or multiple) recoup resource investment by being to market at the right price with the right product at the right time. The drug companies and their product are not different from any other in this regard. Something to consider, it is entirely possible that the product might be quite good but the customer remains uninterested. In such a sitation would you recommend that the potential customer be required (forced) to pay tribute to the innovator/developer so the resource investment may be recouped? I hope not. Apply that lesson. It remains the case that recouping the investment is desirable but it does not justify a compulsory burden being coercively forced upon others.

If I invented an anti-gravity device I’d be on the phone trying to do a deal with an appropriate manufacturer or several. I’d be trying to develop a little competitive tension between a few of them. I’d be asking for a pay-out for showing them how I did anti-gravity. I do not require a patent to so do.

The thing to realise is that you must understand your own limitations, as well as your own strengths, as well as (most inportantly) you own interests and values. The logistics of marketing and distribution of a product throughout the world is a specialist undertaking. Not something I’m hugely experienced in or really interested in. Hence I’d be looking to unload, take the money and get on with the next project.

Sione

Nuke Gray September 23, 2011 at 12:25 am

Harvey Reece IS out there, doing, and has over 100 patents out there bringing him money. He also has an advice website for inventors, and he writes books on the subject.
And I will be doing as you suggest, by getting a licence, and then licencing my product to a manufacturer, and getting rich from my endeavours.

Sione September 25, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Nuke Gray

He’s out alright. He’s out there writing books (talking) and he’s out there patenting.

Recall that we were discussing INNOVATION and a commitment to doing that, not patenting. INNOVATION is not the same thing as erecting monopolies. To innovate you do not need to be a monopolist. Indeed, the time and resource wasted in playing patent monopoly games is time and resource forever lost to innovative pursuits…

The trouble with takers like this hero of yours is that he is busy “perfecting” other people’s lives- telling them what they should be doing in order to correspond to his arbitrary ideas and subjective evaluations. Better getting his own life in order, perfecting that and leaving everyone else alone to perfect theirs.

I did not suggest you get a licence or licence your product. I did disclose what I would do and that is to seek payment for showing someone something I knew about (it’s called teaching). You need to practice English language comprehension.

Sione

Dale B. Halling September 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm

That is because it is not a monopoly – limited or otherwise. It is a property right. You get a property right because you create something – the law is recognizing the reality that you created something and but for your creation it would not exist. A limited term property right would be more appropriate, but all property rights are limited terms (limited by your lifetime essentially).

nate-m September 22, 2011 at 12:53 am

It’s a monopoly. It conflicts with property rights, also.

It is no coincidence that the first formal patent laws in England were called “Statute of Monopolies”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Monopolies

Modern patent law is derived from the Merchantalist tradition of having the government awarding special privileges for politically influential businesses. They would issue letters patent* for sugar markets, for example. The East India company having a monopoly over trade in the India ocean is another example of this tradition.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_patent

Eventually it was determined that issuing letters patents over markets was counter productive and destructive. It was decided that they will restrict the formal declaration of monopolies to just ‘new inventions’.

That is how we got to were we are today.

This ‘patents are not monopolies’ thing is just a recent thing. It’s really just pure bullshit based on:
“I am told that Monopolies are bad”
“I am told that Patents are good”
Therefore:
“Patents are not monopolies”

They are monopolies in every sense of the word. The government says that you are the only one allowed to sell or license your patented idea/concept. How is that not a monopoly?

You get a property right because you create something

That’s never been how it is for any property right. I could go into details why, but this little nugget of misinformation has been gone over so many times by so many people that to tell you to look up why your wrong is sufficient.

But it’s really misleading anyways. Because that is not how patents work either. So much so that it is effectively a straw man.

The easiest way to illustrate how you are wrong in your assumptions on patents is to simply explain how the current patent system works:

If you are granted a patent over something then that gives you the right to sue people for their own use of their own private property. Even if they come up with a invention completely independently of you you can still sue them for infringement. Even if you never market, sell, or license a product that uses your patent you can sue people for things they sell and license completely independently.

If it was true that patents only protect ‘your creation’ then it would be a valid defense in a patent lawsuit to prove that you came up with the same idea independently. This is certainly not true. Even if a person can prove that they came up with the invention independently they are still liable for damages to the person that owns the patent. Independent creation is not a defense. It is just a matter of who gets to the government and pays them for the monopoly first.

Thus patents are government granted monopolies. If it looks like a duck, behaves like a duck, quacks like a duck, floats like a duck, then it is a duck.

Peter Surda September 22, 2011 at 1:05 am

Dale,

is a right to healthcare a property right? Why or why not?

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 9:07 am

Property rights are not monopolies nor are they limited in term–you can pass it down to your heirs.

One of the first major statutes for patent is called the Statute of Monopolies. Even its proponents recognize it’s a monopoly. Ever wonder why the courts say there is a “tension” between the antitrust law and patent/copyright? Earth to Halling…

You seem to be totally incapable of making a real or honest argument. You just keep asserting nonsense over and over.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 9:07 am

Property rights are not monopolies nor are they limited in term–you can pass it down to your heirs.

Wrong on both counts. 1)All property, by definition, is a monopoly by virtue of exclusive use.

2) All property ownership is for a limited term. As to a single person, use is circumscribed by death. Right to devise is limited by the rule against perpetuities. The rights of each heir are likewise limited.

Also, you keep trotting out this Statue of Monopolies as if it’s the coup de grace. It is not an issue of who granted monopolies for what, it is a matter of to what ends is securing a particular monopoly effective means?

Private property, even the kind you personally like, is a means of achieving some ends, presumably cooperation and a division of labor society in a free market. In this regard, you must make a distinction for IP other than the fact it is a monopoly. Of course it is, like all property held in private ownership.

sweatervest September 22, 2011 at 11:00 pm

All property, by definition, is a monopoly by virtue of exclusive use

This is nonsense. A monopoly is the exclusive right to produce something, not use something, which translates into a right to violate the property rights of others by stopping them from otherwise peaceful production using their own property. Monopoly is necessarily a violation of property, which is why it makes no sense to say all property is monopoly. Monopoly is exclusion of production, not exclusion of use.

sweatervest September 22, 2011 at 11:15 pm

All property ownership is for a limited term. As to a single person, use is circumscribed by death. Right to devise is limited by the rule against perpetuities. The rights of each heir are likewise limited.

The last statement reveals why the first statement is wrong. The heir is at least chosen by the property owner and if not it is certainly not up to anyone else to decide. Part of being the owner means you can transfer your ownership away. Being able to sell something does not mean ownership is not perpetual. You are missing the point. Ownership is meaningless if someone other than the owner enforces a limited term of ownership. That is exactly what stealing is. Being the owner means only you can decide when ownership is transferred out of your hands, and death merely necessitates a transfer by virtue of the dead not being able to use property. It is perpetual in the sense that no one *else* can decide to end it.

Also, you keep trotting out this Statue of Monopolies as if it’s the coup de grace. It is not an issue of who granted monopolies for what, it is a matter of to what ends is securing a particular monopoly effective means?

Of course not because different people have different ends. The only reason why conflicts would arise and necessitate a system of ownership is because two peoples’ ends cannot be simultaneously met. That simply dodges the very question at hand. Of course securing monopolies will be against the ends of someone, or else there is nothing to enforce and it would be meaningless to even call it a monopoly. Any kind of exclusion implies that someone wanted to use something and are being stopped. That by definition works *against* their ends. That is the point. All the ends cannot be simultaneously met.

Private property, even the kind you personally like, is a means of achieving some ends, presumably cooperation and a division of labor society in a free market

This makes no sense because private property arises precisely when someone’s ends must go unfulfilled by virtue of A’s end being incompatible with B’s end.

In this regard, you must make a distinction for IP other than the fact it is a monopoly. Of course it is, like all property held in private ownership.

No it is quite sufficient for, as I said earlier, monopoly is by definition a violation of property rights. This is nothing short of a glaring equivocation of monopoly and ownership which are not only different but antagonistic. The only way one can possibly identify someone as a holder of a monopoly is due to his legally enforced violation of the property of others. That is why it is sufficient to establish IP as grants of monopolies in order to reject it as incompatible with property rights. The only possible way an author can have complete control over the production of copies of his work is the same way any monopolist has complete control over the production of his good: by trampling the rights of everyone else to use their property and produce themselves.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 9:11 am

Property rights do not arise from creation. This is an utter confusion. See http://blog.mises.org/14045/locke-on-ip-mises-rothbard-and-rand-on-creation-production-and-rearranging/

Property rights in scarce resources arise because someone homesteads a previously unowned resource–becomes its first productive user, the first to establish publicly visible borders–thereby establishing a better claim to the resource than any latecomer. “Creation” means to use your already-owned property to make them more valuable–essentially, it means rearranging existing resources into more valuable configurations. This makes them more valuable to the owner, and/or to possible customers. This makes the owner wealthier. I.e., creation does not product property, it rearranges property, and in so doing, creates wealth. but the wealth is not owned–it is the rearranged thing that is owned. It was owned already, before it was rearranged, otherwise the creator would not have had the right to use the raw materials as factors in production.

Andras September 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm

And do you claim that there is no subjectivity or arbitrariness in this definition of yours?
Simple question: YES or NO?

nate-m September 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

NO,

It’s called logic. Just examine the world around you and see how it works. We don’t have to retreat to metaphysical bullshit to explain what property rights are, what their purposes are, and why they exist.

However if you are trying to argue that IP is property rights then that is exactly what you must do. There is no logical leap from physical property rights to intellectual property rights. You must use handwavy terms and phrases like ‘Property rights derive from the act of creation’ and such nonsense. It sounds good on paper and at first glance it makes sense.. but on closer examination it falls to pieces.

Carl Sagan had a lovely phrase to illustrate why this sort of thing is a bit misleading:
“”If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”"

Our ‘creation’ is never anything but derived works. All the ideas we have, everything we own, everything we create is derived from existing goods and existing ideas… either taken from the earth itself or taken from other human beings.

That is why you cannot say that property rights derive from creation. There is no true ‘creation from scratch’. Everything we create is really just matter received from others (or ‘homesteaded’ from the land) and is modified using knowledge and ideas (slightly modified) that is copied from other people. It’s all derivative works. There is no real beginning we are responsible for.

I own my car, for example. I did not ‘create’ my car. The people that made my car did not invent the car. They did not mine the ore and refine it. The people that mined the ore did not invent the idea of mining. They did not invent the concept of refining or create the knowledge of alloys. etc etc. There is no act of creation, it’s just transforming goods and combining goods using knowledge developed over millennia.. Hundreds of thousands of years of humans aping other humans and ‘stealing’ ideas with out their permissions.

I didn’t create the dirt my house resides on. Nobody did. It existed for thousands of years. It was here before humans existed, in one form or another, and it will be here after we are all dead and gone. Nobody created the wood that it’s built out of.. It was a living thing that grew on it’s own; wild. Nobody created the iron ore that the nails are made of that holds the house together.

Yet I still own my car. I still own my house and my land. I have property rights and the ability to use these items how I see fit.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm

@nate-m September 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

By “NO” you mean there IS subjectivity and arbitrariness?

Like your failures in reading comprehension, you seem unable to grasp that your entire rant here is based on assuming that property rights only arise through some system of natural rights theory, an assumption which is fundamentally, practically and historically false.

Furthermore, it is your peculiar theory of natural rights which excludes from the possibility of existence any form of creative transformation that is obvious to a third grader.

Do you think that Carl meant that we can create nothing because we haven’t created the universe? Think again. He is playing on the word “scratch”. All things have their effects in a prior cause. So? Because you can use this imagery to reduce all creative acts to absurdity does not mean that there is no meaning to the word “creativity”.

In any case, the argument about whether creativity is or is not a source of natural rights misses the point. Natural rights are simply an ethical justification for the particular system of property rights one advocates. Fortunately, from my point of view, your system does not prevail because it is fundamentally flawed. It is limited to a certain class or property, and fails to account for other forms that are in common use.

Furthermore, even your peculiar system of ethics, like all property rights, and in fact all rights that exist, are human devices, created and adopted for purposes that society finds useful as means for an end which is generally held to be desirable; cooperation.

Cooperation leads to division of labor, which leads to civilization, but to you that’s no big whoop. You are so smart, you can reinvent civilization by using armchair logic and ad hoc reasoning to your foregone conclusion.

Stephan Kinsella September 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Cooperation leads to division of labor, which leads to civilization, but to you that’s no big whoop. You are so smart, you can reinvent civilization by using armchair logic and ad hoc reasoning to your foregone conclusion.

how does any of this prove state-dictated positive law is just? Handwaving.

Andras September 22, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Again Stephan, an attempt to qualify the absolute qualifies you not the absolute.
But what about my simple question? Yes or no?

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:02 am

By “NO” you mean there IS subjectivity and arbitrariness?

Obviously not. A little, what do you call it, “reading comprehension” could have avoided that misunderstanding. Maybe if you had read what followed no you wouldn’t have pulled it out of context to hide its obvious meaning.

Like your failures in reading comprehension, you seem unable to grasp that your entire rant here is based on assuming that property rights only arise through some system of natural rights theory, an assumption which is fundamentally, practically and historically false.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

The natural rights theory is fundamentally correct because it is based on fundamental truths, like that people argue and that argumentation presupposes a certain behavioral norm. Even if you don’t restrict yourself to a Hoppean framework, other natural rights theorists have explained it in terms of, for example, the Kantian Categorical Imperative, which is that for a behavioral norm to count as a good ethic it must be possibly universalized. Either way, natural rights theories have always been rooted in fundamentally true observations. That is what makes them *natural* rights. They derive from fundamental qualities of nature.

Natural rights is the only system of rights that could possibly be practical. Western civilization has proven wildly successful relative to other societies due precisely to the fact that the idea of natural rights has been most prevalent in Western civilization.

In general it makes no sense to say something is “historically” false. If by this you mean that there are historically more instances of rights violations than rights being respected then your complaint is irrelevant and a straw man. No natural rights theorist has ever suggested that most societies of the past or future did/will recognize and respect natural rights, anymore than a mathematician claims that most societies in the past or future did/will recognize that every subset of real numbers bounded above has a least upper bound.

I highly suspect you have never even touched natural rights writings which have been cranked out for thousands of years. Every *single* time you complain about natural rights you blow down a straw man and I can only assume that is because your idea of natural rights came from people who are opposed to natural rights theories.

Furthermore, it is your peculiar theory of natural rights which excludes from the possibility of existence any form of creative transformation that is obvious to a third grader.

Well that’s an argument typical of a third grader. Anyways, you certainly have offered no support to your claim, and its absurdity is obvious if we unpack your typically obtuse language: what you are saying is that preventing people from imitating makes creativity impossible. That is so obviously nonsense a third grader could probably point it out to you, but unlike you I step up to the challenge I admit a third grader could tackle: imitation is the main tool of any creativity. If you were a creative person you would know that.

And then there’s the whole thing about how the utilitarian argument for IP is the same basic fallacy that rests at the base of all broken window fallacies (destruction of *goods*, not bads Kid Salami, to help the economy). The only means by which IP raises the incentives of creative production is by keeping the marginal utility of creative goods and labor high by virtue of keeping their supply low. This is obviously not a means to more rapidly increase the supply of creative goods and labor, any more than drug laws and the resulting enrichment of drug dealers is a path to more drugs.

Natural rights are simply an ethical justification for the particular system of property rights one advocates

No its not. Its an attempt to derive a justifiable behavioral norm from the nature of things. If you are going to criticize natural rights then fine, but this isn’t it. Besides I think you are assuming you conclusion of moral relativism in speaking of “particular system of property rights”. You again are confused fundamentally on what property rights are. People may disagree on what is property or not but it is not a matter of opinion, property is rooted in the nature of things. It is not an arbitrary set of rules.

Fortunately, from my point of view, your system does not prevail because it is fundamentally flawed. It is limited to a certain class or property, and fails to account for other forms that are in common use

The other thing your point of view establishes is that whatever you have to say about IP is just your point of view and can’t put a dent in what I say. You’re just stating your preferences.

Also it is not limited to a certain class of property, you are just unwilling to really learn about the ancap system and see how the myriad of market complexities flows naturally from the simple axiomatic base. It is exactly how math works. Start with 8 axioms, and eventually you derive all the complexities of math.

I really think you are just hostile to the axiomatic-deductive method. I suppose I find this ludicrous only because I have spent my whole life with an obsession for math and can never doubt how incredibly powerful this method is. I also always point out that you never identify an alternative, which could only be aimless mental poking around in the dark, guided only by your “gut” feeling.

Furthermore, even your peculiar system of ethics, like all property rights, and in fact all rights that exist, are human devices, created and adopted for purposes that society finds useful as means for an end which is generally held to be desirable; cooperation.

You are a total broken record with this. It doesn’t even mean anything. To say something is a “human device” is a trivial tautology that does not at all imply what I know you are trying to get at here, which is that property rights are a matter of agreement and all it takes is a different agreement to change what is property and what is not. As I say every time, math is a human device, and physics is a human device, and economics is a human device, and logic is a human device, and thinking is a human device. Are you gonna start telling me people just agreed that contradictions are impossible, that they agreed that thinking works the way it does and not some other way? Did some ancient government vote on and legislate the law of gravity? Is the human device of physics an example of fiction or non-fiction? Is it a description of something real? Is it meaningful to say that physics done differently would *fail* as a human device? Would it not be a faulty device?

You never explain why this is not true with ethics. Saying property is a human device doesn’t imply that there is such a thing as an incorrect conception of property rights and that the human device of property rights only functions as such when it is property constructed, just like a building, another human device, only serves its function when it is constructed properly.

People can agree to not build it properly, but they cannot agree that an improper construction gives you a building that doesn’t stay standing. It is no different with property rights: people can agree to not build it properly, or perhaps just be mistaken on what property rights properly are, but they cannot agree that misconceiving of property results in generation of conflict rather than resolution of conflict.

You can’t just decide that something is or is not compatible with cooperation. No one can cooperate if everyone is being murdered. That is not a matter of agreement, but a matter of *fact*.

Cooperation leads to division of labor, which leads to civilization, but to you that’s no big whoop

Why, because he is trying to spell out what behavioral norm is implied by cooperation being possible? This is quite amusing. You are telling me it’s totally up to peoples’ whims what cooperation even means, and then accuse someone else of not caring about cooperation!?

You are so smart, you can reinvent civilization by using armchair logic and ad hoc reasoning to your foregone conclusion

Well that would be just ridiculous. But armchair logic to defend the civilization that is here is perfectly reasonable. See, constructing a hypothetical that is better compared to what exists is just a bunch of ad hoc reasoning to reach a “foregone conclusion” (that, ironically, is a foregone conclusion as I think you assumed outright that your opponents didn’t think their positions through). But constructing a hypothetical that is worse compared to what exists is so obvious even a third grader would do it.

Also, you seem to be complaining that anyone is thinking about social problems and trying to come up with solutions. Is that what you are saying here? Is that what makes trying to “reinvent civilization” with a great idea such a sinister or stupid thing to do?

As usual I just apply your reasoning to a different premise. I’m pretty sure society was reinvented by the industrial revolution which was based on ideas derived from, you guessed it: armchair logic! Yes, in fact, it is a good idea to think through what you do before you do it.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:11 am

I wanted to add something to where I said that outlawing imitation in the name of helping creativity is obviously counterproductive:

Every instance of creation is a tweaking of another idea, and that is made easy by both the fact that creation of all types, even “ripoffs”, are legal (otherwise you are constantly scared of being accused of ripping your inspiration off, and that’s only a reason to avoid creative production entirely) and also that the ideas of others are as readily accessible as possible.

Andras September 23, 2011 at 12:22 am

@nate-m and sweatervest,
We must have had an accelerated evolution (or a divine intervention) in the last few hundred years since property ownership as a natural right was certainly not a part of human nature before.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:53 am

We must have had an accelerated evolution (or a divine intervention) in the last few hundred years since property ownership as a natural right was certainly not a part of human nature before.

This is a strange thing to say. We also must have had some divine intervention a hundred and fifty years ago when Maxwell discovered the electromagnetic nature of light and ushered in an era of technology unbeknownst to history. What’s your point? Good ideas can be revolutionary. And how does that suggest any kind of divinity?

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 1:28 am

what you are saying is that preventing people from imitating makes creativity impossible

I’m sorry, I misspoke here, I obviously meant “what you are saying is that allowing people to imitate makes creativity impossible.”

nate-m September 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Like your failures in reading comprehension, you seem unable to grasp that your entire rant here is based on assuming that property rights only arise through some system of natural rights theory, an assumption which is fundamentally, practically and historically false.

Your a doo-doo head.

Furthermore, it is your peculiar theory of natural rights which excludes from the possibility of existence any form of creative transformation that is obvious to a third grader.

This does not make any sense at all. Who is the one with the problem of reading comprehension? You are just making crap up now. It would be interesting to know who you are talking to, because your not talking to me apparently.

Do you think that Carl meant that we can create nothing because we haven’t created the universe? Think again. He is playing on the word “scratch”. All things have their effects in a prior cause. So? Because you can use this imagery to reduce all creative acts to absurdity does not mean that there is no meaning to the word “creativity”.

You don’t even comprehend anything I say, but you think you can tell me what Carl Sagan meant?

Of course there is meaning to creativity. I never said their wasn’t.

In any case, the argument about whether creativity is or is not a source of natural rights misses the point.

Your playing word games again. You are substituting ‘creation’ with ‘creativity’. These are two entirely different things. You are confounding concepts and confusing the discussion.

Either through lack of ability to clearly think or through purposeful manipulation. I don’t know exactly which is going on here. You may think it’s unjust that I am not addressing your points, but there really isn’t any point to be addressed.

. Natural rights are simply an ethical justification for the particular system of property rights one advocates.

Strawman

Furthermore, even your peculiar system of ethics, like all property rights, and in fact all rights that exist, are human devices, created and adopted for purposes that society finds useful as means for an end which is generally held to be desirable; cooperation.

There you are going back to your old argument that whatever the majority feels is correct is correct.

Essentially you are claiming that whatever the majority decides is rights is rights and that there is no fundamental reality to anything that happens. That there is no human nature, there is no requirements for living. There is no nature to physical reality.

Taking the concept to it’s logical conclusion: reality is decided by consensus and physics is putty in the hands of government officials. If you want to be a existential nihilist then just stop beating around the bush and admit to it. It’s not a crime. You’d have a much easier time engaging in conversations in the future if people knew were you were really coming from.

Peter Surda September 23, 2011 at 1:22 am

Can’t speak for Stephan, but from my point of view the answer is definitely no. I’m a falsificationist. I challenge assumptions, rather than make them up.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Not to mention that assumption that property of any kind must 1) first exist and be unowned 2) have a first productive user 3) have publically visible boarders.

If these criteria don’t exclude the possibility of IP rights operating as private property, well we can just make up some more arbitirary criteria.

Never mind that this definition of property does not even cover the concept of easements, which Kinsella admits are consistent wtih a “libertarian” framework of property, but does not meet his own criteria, so he must come up wtih a new concept called “co-ownership” to patch up the holes.

Also, this rediculous argument about “creation” does not deal with the “rearrangement” of resources that are not owned, combined with resources that are owned. The resulting “thing” belongs to whom? Someone who attempts to make a property theory out of this patch-work of ad hoc “criteria” certainly has no claim to coherency. It cannot deal with the simplest problems of the normal operation of property rules.

This is answered by the “irrelevance of impossibility” argument. This looks more like the creation of a Mad Hatter that a rational proposal for a new world order, which Kinsella purports it to be.

Dale B. Halling September 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Wildberry,

Even land does not have have publically visible boarders. There are no lines on the ground, people have fought for centuries over the boundaries of their property. Only GPS has made the boundaries clear. This is a completely illogical definition or criteria of property.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Dale,

Yes, it is shallow nonsense. According to the propoents of this property theory, the purpose of property is to avoid conflict. Well, if boundaries are invisible or in dispute, conflict is bound to arise. In the absense of something like the rule of law, these disputes must be resolved by violence. So the theory fails in its most fundamental purpose, much less in dealing with a slightly more complex problem of easements and servetudes, and certainly not with IP.

This is dealt with by making up new rules on on an ad hoc basis, like “co-ownership”, or simply defining a class of property away by assumption with the homesteading rule.

Finally, all of this is excused with an argument for the “irrelevance of impossibility”.

Honestly, it is a house of cards, and hasn’t registered the first notch on the truth meter. It is no accident that the leaderhip here on this site are politically and socially insignificant, in the larger scheme of things beyond this blog.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:29 am

Well, if boundaries are invisible or in dispute, conflict is bound to arise

Blatant straw man. Proponents of this property rights theory have always claimed the boundaries are visible.

In the absense of something like the rule of law, these disputes must be resolved by violence. So the theory fails in its most fundamental purpose, much less in dealing with a slightly more complex problem of easements and servetudes, and certainly not with IP.

This is ridiculous and entirely hypocritical. Property rights is exactly what the “rule of law” means. You are saying that objectively defined borders leads to conflict while subjectively, whimsically defined borders do not!? So you’re saying if you and your committee decide to extend your property boundary over what I consider now to be my property that is less likely to generate a conflict and result in violence than a case where the boundary is defined naturally and unchangeable by people short of a mutual agreement by all the adjacent property owners to do so?

That is entirely absurd and you derive it only from your blatant straw man where you accuse this property rights theory of dealing with invisible borders.

It is *precisely* the purpose of homesteading to establish the borders of property. What makes this so frustrating is that you refuse to learn anything about the theories you are so intent on attacking. You just presented a “problem” that every one of these theorists recognized immediately and then *solved*, the solution being one of the cornerstones of the entire theory!

I cannot believe what a hypocrisy it is that you always accuse me of arguing about things I don’t know about. I realize now that the reason you do that is because you yourself are so ignorant and uninformed about ethics and property rights theories that you don’t recognize familiarity with the content when you see it. You are just *that* unfamiliar with the material yourself!

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:21 am

Even land does not have have publically visible boarders. There are no lines on the ground, people have fought for centuries over the boundaries of their property. Only GPS has made the boundaries clear. This is a completely illogical definition or criteria of property.

Of course land has visible borders. That’s what a fence is! Also, even before anyone builds a fence, the border between what you have transformed by using and what you have not transformed is visible, by definition of transformation by use (i.e. transformation implies an objective, inter-subjectively identifiable change).

Homesteading *does* establish a border. You only transform a section of land by, for example, farming in a certain plot.

people have fought for centuries over the boundaries of their property

But it does not follow from this that those boundaries are not defined. For one, even well-defined borders don’t change the fact that some people prefer to disrespect them. Furthermore, most property borders you speak of are probably by government design (i.e. verbal decrees not backed by homesteading) and therefore not an example of a justifiable property boundary.

people have fought for centuries over the boundaries of their property

As opposed to what? The only alternative is to have arbitrarily stipulated boundaries and that makes the problem even worse. Property has to have boundaries to be defined at all, and when the choice is between those boundaries being objectively defined and them being a matter of choice, I would say the latter suffers far more from the problem of being constantly trampled on.

Dale B. Halling September 23, 2011 at 9:00 am

Yes and that is what claims are

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 1:03 am

Wait what?

Peter Surda September 23, 2011 at 1:45 am

Wildberry,

Not to mention that assumption that property of any kind must 1) first exist and be unowned

Can you provide an answer to the question if property can be owned before it exists (and if it can, explain how), and also show an example of “IP” that covers unowned property?

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Dale,

On this point I think you are wrong. IP is certainly a limited monopoly, but then so is all property. Private property ownership is a concept of monopoly; i.e. exclusive use.

Therefore the rights to property are monopoly rights. IP, like all other forms of property, is the result of the creation of positive law that secures these rights. This is true regardless of what institution of enforcement of these rights you wish to assume.

To Nate-m’s point, all property rights conflict with other property rights on some level. It is the objective of a property rights theory to resolve these conflicts on the margins of these conflicts. That is simply another way of describing the rule of law.

Of course, Nate-m does not bother with the issue of how and where we should construct these boundaries; that is too deep. He and others who advocate the total annihilation of IP do not care to address the consequences of that choice, even when the namesake for this site tries to point the way.

Whether the given property right came about by way of homestead or royal decree, it is in fact a monopoly by virtue of right to exclusive use. Consequently, Nate-m’s point is moot. He is correct, but it proves nothing. The issue is WHAT property rights should be secured, and WHY.

This is a question of defining ends, and the means to achieve those ends. That in turn is an economic question, and must be argued on a utilitarian basis. Once the ends are selected, the question becomes what means are most likely to achieve the selected ends. This is the nature of IP; they are a means to achieve specific ends.

Dale B. Halling September 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Wildberry, This shows just how confused economics has become about monopolies. A monopoly is a right to a market. Meaning you are the only way who can make and sell a product or service in that market. Monopolies come from the statute of monopolies, which limited the power of government and asserted people’s property rights. Our antitrust laws turned this on its head and limited private property rights and expanded the rights of the government.

A patent does not even give you the right to sell or make anything. As a result, it cannot give you a right to a market. Property rights are not monopolies.

Wildberry September 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Dale,

Actually, Mises wrote about this problem in Human Action, so it is not confused by “economics” but by those who purport to use economic arguments in opposition to IP.

There are two connotations of monopoly; market monopoly and property monopoly. Some have argued that a market monopoly cannot really exist in a free market, but in any case, this is the class of monopoly where the entire access to a commodity is controlled to the extent that monopoly prices for that commodity arise (i.e. to “corner the market” for a commodity).

The second connotation is that all private property is a monopoly, and in this regard monopoly is all around us. The concept of private property, this second type of monopoly, is the basis for free trade, contracts, and other attributes of a cooperative division of labor society.

You can see that if you say “monopolies are bad” and mean the second type, you are saying that private property is bad. I don’t think even the radical thinkers here take that position, but they do carve out certain classes of property and declare it by definition non-existent.

So really, all that is being said in one sense is that IP cannot be a private property monopoly, so it must be a market/pricing monopoly. Since we all agree that market monopolies are bad, that just paints IP with the brush of equivocation. It is a cheap trick, really.

Dale B. Halling September 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Wildberry, with all due respect to you and Von Mises, this is definition creep and leads to nonsense. Much like people want to use the word “rights” to mean the ability to force other people to provide them something or liberal means using government power to repress people and limit the actions they can undertake. There is only one definition of monopoly that is historically and logically consistent. It is a government grant to an existing market. This is a clear violation of people’s natural rights. Failure to properly define terms leads to GIGO.

Virginia Llorca September 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Notice how you didn’t fit into their very private discourse? Gotta love those guys.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:44 am

He and others who advocate the total annihilation of IP do not care to address the consequences of that choice, even when the namesake for this site tries to point the way

Flat out lie. I have explained homesteading and made clear its role in establishing the borders of property. I have also explained why it is so mind-bendingly stupid that you would suggest that arbitrarily, subjectively defined borders leads to more conflict resolution. Your strategy here is to ignore my arguments contrary to yours, and then pretend they didn’t happen and complain that you haven’t been answered. You have, over and over and over, but you never bother to answer the answer. You halt the debate like always.

Whether the given property right came about by way of homestead or royal decree, it is in fact a monopoly by virtue of right to exclusive use.

That is never what monopoly has meant. I am accusing you of being purposefully misleading and therefore dishonest. You know that monopoly means right to exclusive production, not use, and I think you are relying on your readers missing that.

This is a question of defining ends, and the means to achieve those ends.

Then you don’t get an answer because your ends conflict with mine and so simply recognizing our respective ends does not give an answer to whose end shall go fulfilled and whose shall go unfulfilled.

That in turn is an economic question, and must be argued on a utilitarian basis

This is ridiculous nonsense and it angers me that you consider yourself a Misesean when you flatly contradict everything he ever said. Mises made it consistently clear that economics is a value-free science and has *nothing* to do with what people want. The purpose of economics is only to describe the consequences of certain actions.

Not only is it supremely anti-Austrian to state that economics is policy prescription, it is circular because it only begs the question of why something whose consequences are desired by *you* should be desired by anyone else. You seem unable to grasp that different people have different ends, and also seem to have no problem assuming that your own ends are equivalent to the ends of everyone else. A utilitarian argument relies on measurements of utility made by *you* (or at least someone). By saying “A leads to B, B is good, therefore A is justified” is nonsense because it begs the question of why B is good.

You know absolutely nothing about economics, down to its very purpose. Economics is a value-free science and as long as it remains so it cannot prescribe policy. Utilitarianism is nonsense because it assumes that everyone has the same goal and can agree on what actions are best suited to reach that one goal. It ignores the only problem at hand, which is what should happen when people have different goals that conflict with each other!

If IP is utilitarian for you, it is dis-utilitarian for file-sharers. And anything you say to try and establish the utility you gain as “more important” than the utility the file-sharers lose is either your own personal value judgment or admission that utilitarianism is wrong (after all, it would have to be wrong from the perspective of the file-sharer).

I look forward to you ignoring every word of this and rehashing your sophisms next time.

Once the ends are selected, the question becomes what means are most likely to achieve the selected ends. This is the nature of IP; they are a means to achieve specific ends.

This is so ridiculous I can’t believe it. As if you somehow missed that those wishing to act in defiance of IP have ends that necessitate the means of defying IP!

“Once the ends are selected”? I couldn’t ask for a better admission that you are a dictator. Wildberry, please tell me who is going to select my ends for me?

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 2:55 am

You get a property right because you create something – the law is recognizing the reality that you created something and but for your creation it would not exist

This is a non-sequitur. The first part is true regardless of IP. You create the one instance of your work, be it the first copy of a book or recording, or the prototype of an invention. No one is disputing that.

The second is a different matter entirely, one of causal necessity. If I grow a really nice garden in my back yard I raise the property value of my neighbor’s house, and he can sell it for a higher price. This extra money he gets from selling the house is there because of something I did. My labor in tending to the garden is a causal necessity for him getting this extra money. What part of property rights would suggest that I have a right to that money? Positive externalities do not establish ownership rights. The fact that your labor raises the value of the property of others does not give you an ownership claim to anyone else’s property. The fact that your labor is a causal necessity for the raised value is irrelevant.

A limited term property right would be more appropriate, but all property rights are limited terms (limited by your lifetime essentially)

This is a misunderstanding. If ownership were really limited to your lifetime then your property would return to a state of being un-owned upon your death. But that is not what a private property system describes. Rather, you get to choose to whom the ownership goes upon your death, or in the event you never do this it goes to your closest living relative, only because it is the best guess given the available data of who you would have chosen. This is no different from selling something. The ownership term is not limited. You can always choose *not* to sell and keep the thing until nature forces you to give away all of your property. If the term were limited the transfer of ownership would happen against the will of the current owner, and that undermines the very concept of ownership.

On the other hand, that any sensible formulation of IP must include limits is a clue to it being untenable. There is no means beyond value judgments to determine what the limit should be. This is a true example of an invisible border. This is something that must be “simply agreed” upon, and as I have said before property rights are not just the results of simple agreements, they are also what must be agreed upon in order to make any sort of agreement at all. Where there are no property rights there is no agreement.

If X must be simply agreed upon because no objective way of making a decision exists then X cannot be a property right because it implies subjecting third parties who never enter agreements into recognizing the terms of agreements among others. Property rights cannot by definition by modified by the agreement of those who are not the holders of those property rights. If third parties cannot reach the same conclusions themselves by virtue of there being an objective way to reach those conclusions, then their property rights are undermined by the enforcement of the arbitrary agreements of others.

Dale B. Halling September 23, 2011 at 9:06 am

Wrong, there is no reason to assume it would return to the state. If you are dead you do not own property. While you are alive you can state who will own it after you, but you cannot own property when you are dead.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 12:49 am

But that would be a violation of property rights. I agree that you do not own property when you are dead, and that was part of my explanation. My point is that, so long as the state does not trample your property rights, you get to choose to whom your property goes. That is not the term of ownership ending, that is you transferring your ownership, and being to transfer ownership does not imply a limited term of ownership.

Besides, this hardly has any bearing on intellectual property. You can say the ownership term ends when you die but only because it has to end, there is no conceivable way that it would not. The term is ended by nature, not by the actions of any human. It is a completely different issue for a human to end the ownership term of someone else’s property. It negates the very meaning of ownership, which is literally the extent to which things like that don’t happen.

Dale B. Halling September 22, 2011 at 8:59 am

Peter,

No, there is no such thing as a right that requires someone else provide you something. There is no such thing as “positive rights”. Positive rights are slavery.

Peter Surda September 22, 2011 at 9:38 am

Dale,

No, there is no such thing as a right that requires someone else provide you something.

And, since IP requires that someone else (producers or holders of copies) provide you (the author) with something (e.g. money or the copies themselves), IP is also not a right.

There is no such thing as “positive rights”. Positive rights are slavery.

Unless you can show me an example of IP that does not obligate anyone to do anything with their private property, you just refuted the validity of IP.

Nuke Gray September 23, 2011 at 12:36 am

Not true! No-one is required to do anything because of IP. In fact it is those people who do things that are bothered by the law. People who don’t copy or pirate others’ works are left alone.
I notice that people consistently shy away from my idea of a distinction between private and public property, nor do they discuss giving local governments more powers, and the center less powers. But my version of minarchy is quite compatible with an IP approach, if IP is limited to public spaces, leaving people free to do on their property what they want with their own property, but leaving copiers unable to advertise their copies on, or through, public spaces and lands.

sweatervest September 23, 2011 at 12:48 am

I notice that people consistently shy away from my idea of a distinction between private and public property

Public property is meaningless. If more than one person is the owner of a good then when conflicts arise among the owners there is literally no means to resolve that conflict. Public property fails the only purpose that property serves, and it is also an impossible construct. All public property is functionally the private property of the presiding government.

Peter Surda September 23, 2011 at 1:20 am

Nuke Gray,

No-one is required to do anything because of IP.

Then kindly provide an example of IP that does not require anybody to do anything.

Furthermore, even if your argument was true, it would only prove that IP is meaningless. If IP does not require anybody to do anything, then the presence or absence of IP are empirically indistinguishable.

billwald September 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Boggles my mind that even Libertarians forget that a balance sheet has two sides. The money earned by patent trolls wasn’t burned. It still exists. Kinsella’s bottom line complaint is that HE didn’t earn the money. Under Libertarian principles, every person should rip off the system as long as it is legal. If the majority decides they don’t like the division of the pie the law should be changed.

Whenever an argument starts, “(ADJECTIVE NOUN) costs (the economy, the country, society)” it a social argument, not an economic argument. For example, “Drunk drivers cost the nation . . . .”

Say the Good Fairy waves her magic wand and all drunk driving immediately stops. What does THAT do to unemployment numbers? Which jobs will be lost? Traffic cops, ambulance drivers, medics, hospital personnel, car dealers, body shop mechanics. tow truck drivers, insurance claims people . . . . What job descriptions have vacancies which could be filled by these people the Good Fairy just put out of work? If the same Good Fairy caused all people to stop drinking alcohol the country would go into a full blown depression in two months.

Wildberry September 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm

billwald,
This is a very good point. Each action has a reaction, and every act has consequences, some of which are bound to be unanticipated. To simply ignore this fact is beyond folly, and certainly cannot be mistaken for a comprehensive and coherent theory of human nature in society.

I love this line:

Under Libertarian principles, every person should rip off the system as long as it is legal.

By making all but the most obvious and heinous acts legal, ripping off the system should be a full time job with full employment, for as long as the “stuff” holds out.

Viewed in this way, libertarianism as it is preached around here is just another transfer-of-wealth, anarchist scheme of “from each according to what they have of value, and to each according to what they can rip off.”
Hillarious!

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 2:05 am

This is a very good point. Each action has a reaction, and every act has consequences, some of which are bound to be unanticipated. To simply ignore this fact is beyond folly, and certainly cannot be mistaken for a comprehensive and coherent theory of human nature in society.

What does this have to do with anything? We’re all very impressed you are aware of causality and the uncertainty of the future. How does that help your case?

By making all but the most obvious and heinous acts legal, ripping off the system should be a full time job with full employment, for as long as the “stuff” holds out.

Since when do I agree with you that violating IP “rights” is even slightly heinous? And how do you rip of a system when it is abolished? Do I need to remind you you are talking to people who are trying to abolish the system?

Viewed in this way, libertarianism as it is preached around here is just another transfer-of-wealth, anarchist scheme of “from each according to what they have of value, and to each according to what they can rip off.”
Hillarious!

This is just a bunch of words that mean nothing. Transfer-of-wealth, anarchist scheme, huh? Well, what could that possibly mean? You have admitted yourself that IP is merely a redistribution of rights. Not transfering wealth? What? And who cares if it is anarchist? Calling it anarchist is not a criticism.

Your attempt to squeeze what anyone here says into some Marxist “to each according” is a complete failure and doesn’t even mean anything. It’s just an obtuse, flowery and dishonest way of saying that you disagree with the ancap framework of property.

As I said before, your bitching here stems only from the fact you have a distaste for anarcho-capitalists.

sweatervest September 24, 2011 at 1:55 am

The money earned by patent trolls wasn’t burned. It still exists

You are missing the point. When someone robs a bank no money gets burned either. You can still say people lost the dollar amount taken from the bank.

Kinsella’s bottom line complaint is that HE didn’t earn the money

Where in the world are you getting that from? This is quite an unsubstantiated accusation. Show me where Kinsella suggested he should get money earned by patent trolls?

Under Libertarian principles, every person should rip off the system as long as it is legal. If the majority decides they don’t like the division of the pie the law should be changed.

Wait, is this sarcastic? What do you think IP rights are?

Whenever an argument starts, “(ADJECTIVE NOUN) costs (the economy, the country, society)” it a social argument, not an economic argument. For example, “Drunk drivers cost the nation . . . .”

No, costs are part of economics, like saying that when a factory gets built on land it comes with the opportunity cost of not using that land for a farm. Deciding whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs is a “social” (actually personal, subjective) argument. Determining what the costs and benefits are is the purpose of economics.

Besides your whole argument is ridiculous. The post is no different than saying “criminals cost the economy X dollars” by calculating the dollar amount of what has been stolen/destroyed in violent crimes. Would you respond by reminding us that criminals spend that money? Yeah, and the point is that the original owners would have spent it and now cannot. The money is spent on things the criminals want, not what those who earned the money want.

Say the Good Fairy waves her magic wand and all drunk driving immediately stops. What does THAT do to unemployment numbers? Which jobs will be lost? Traffic cops, ambulance drivers, medics, hospital personnel, car dealers, body shop mechanics. tow truck drivers, insurance claims people . . . . What job descriptions have vacancies which could be filled by these people the Good Fairy just put out of work? If the same Good Fairy caused all people to stop drinking alcohol the country would go into a full blown depression in two months.

Yes as Austrians I am sure we are all aware of the subjectivity of utility. What is good for one person can be good, neutral or bad for someone else. But what you are saying is the broken window fallacy yet again. If the Good Fairy stopped wars then all the defense contractors would go out of business, and if the Good Fairy abolished slavery then all the slave masters go unemployed. So, what, there’s no way to say war and slavery cost the economy?

Peter Surda September 24, 2011 at 7:05 am

Touche Kid Salami on the Simpsons quote. If I may, I have another anecdote.

At a military academy, an officer is teaching the cadets about ballistics. He draws a ballistic curve on the blackboard. One of the cadets asks:
- If you tilt the cannon to the side, wouldn’t it be possible to shoot around corners?
The officer stares at the blackboard, baffled at first. Finally he turns back to the class and says:
- It is theoretically possible, but impractical in real combat.

Wildberry September 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm

@Kid Salami September 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Your reference to Van Dun gave me reason to reread his paper and it reminded me of something in William Patry’s book, Moral Panics and Copyright Wars, that Von Dun and Patry seem to hold in common.

In essence Van Dun takes the “property as liberty” position of Kinsella, and runs it back to the grounding notion that “property is a human device:” (Mises), and shows that as a coherent theory of liberty, it fails. He illustrates this by taking the “libertarian” position and creating the “hostile encirclement” thought experiment.

He presumes a Quasi-Earth, the setting for the supposedly perfect libertarian world order, where “respect for private property is universal”. He then demonstrates that despite this absolute adherence to the natural rights of property owners, preserving liberty for individuals leads us back to the necessity of making rules that interpret the facts according to a judgments about the balance of liberty between those who claim, both true to the principles of private property rights, competing and incompatible property rights, and asks:

“Which argument is more likely to be universalizable? That property rights are sacrosanct, or that freedom is sacrosanct?

In sort, it is the type of balancing-of-interests dilemma that is at the core of the history of the common law.

Patry, for completely different purposes, spends quite a bit of time exploring the use of metaphor in the argumentation concerning the justifications for copyrights, and explains why what I call the neo-mercantilist proponents of copyrights have often tried to enlist property rights as the ultimate justification. Ironically, for much the same reason, “libertarians” of the Kinsella persuasion want to use natural property rights theory to define liberty.

According to Patry:

“…there is a natural rights origin story, which asserts that copyright is a fundamental human right that preexists legal recognition in a statute. The role of the legislature is merely to confirm the preexisting right. Under this approach, copyright is like life and liberty, the protection of which is a fundamental obligation of all civilized societies, perhaps ordained by God. The natural rights approach conveniently ignores that exclusive rights exercised by one person involves taking away the liberty interests of others.

This last sentence is the thesis demonstrated by Van Dun.

I tend to be persuaded about the truth of something when it can be arrived at by a convergence of lines of reasoning starting at various entry points, and arriving at common, consistent conclusions about the true nature of things. If you can begin an inquiry from a one unique starting point, and arrive at the same conclusion reached by an entirely unrelated line of reasoning, the probability increases that your are identifying a universal truth. Perhaps this is simply a restatement of the scientific method; that a theory is strengthened when a conclusion is reached by a range of diverse systems of inquiry which tend to confirm that hypothesis.

In this regard, I have recently triangulated on three different arguments that seem to converge on a common conclusion. Those are Mises (property is a human device, and Danny Sanchez’s recent article on Mises’ Utilitarianism (http://blog.mises.org/18467/the-case-for-utilitarianism/ ), Van Dun, and Patry.

Rereading Van Dun caused me to realize with increased clarity the reason Kinsella et al must reject the premise that “property is a human device” and thus a “means aimed at specific ends” (Mises), Van Dun’s analysis of the fundamental conflict between property and liberty, and hold so strongly to the natural rights metaphor of NAP as a complete and comprehensive theory of liberty.

I think it is because that is the only way one can consistently argue that natural rights theory, (and this PARTICULAR natural rights theory) is above and beyond the reach of the assertion that property rights are in fact a product of positive law, i.e. they are a human device aimed as a means to achieve desirable ends: a division of labor society operating in a free-market economy.

That is NOT to say that because positive law exists, it is de facto justified, but only that rights exist because society determines, in one way or another, that certain ends are desirable, and that specific means are the most effective way to achieve those ends. Because all rights, including property rights however they are defined, are a human device, they are subject to human judgment, and the ability and wisdom to ever more subtly distinguish one thing from another.

If the premise that property is a human device is accepted, it allows for both the fact that humans can hijack legislative means to defeat or distort the desired ends (i.e. neo-mercantilism), or the opposite, that humans can refine their rules of law to resolve conflict between property and liberty at the margins, as Van Dun illustrates. Both are possible, non-exclusive, and in fact do co-exist in modern society. This is the meaning of the call for constant vigilance as the responsibility of all those who value freedom and liberty.

Once one accepts that rights are a function of positive law, then one also must accept that human civilization, evolution of rights and law, and the justification for utilitarian arguments over selecting desirable ends, and the most effective means to achieve those goals, describe the nature of the debate you and I seem to be seeking and not finding here.

In the “libertarian” world of natural rights theory, we are asked to accept that natural rights are naturally preordained to exist outside the scope and beyond the reach of positive law. Therefore the purpose of their argumentation is to “convert” those who do not see the light, or condemn them for refusing to be assimilated.

In the positive law theory of rights, the responsibility for means and ends lands directly on the shoulders of the individuals who view themselves participants in society, both as beneficiaries of its institutions, and as guardians of the means and ends of those institutions. Such an outlook is not defeated by the notion that we must “hate the state”. The state is us.

To the extent we don’t understand it, control it, and in fact actively create the future we desire is a matter of personal responsibility, and as such requires increased cooperation with others, in contrast to a system of natural rights and hyper-individualism that is characteristic of what you called “Crusoe economics” where membership in society is voluntary, and secondary to natural rights we are born into.

Natural rights theory is not useless, and is a reasonable approach to the problem of debating the ends we identify as desirable. In this regard however, I favor Kathleen Touchstone’s approach over Rothbard’s Crusoe economics, who argues that mother and child are the Primary Social Unit, and that cooperation is both fundamental and universal to human nature and therefore society.

However, if we reach agreement on commonly held objectives as ends, and further agree to cooperate in their attainment, we are still left with the debate concerning means to those ends. This is the realm of the economics of law, and to which Hayek said and David Friedman elaborates, is as much a problem for economists as lawyers. I agree.

Stephan Kinsella September 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I assume you are talking about Van Dun’s piece in my Hoppe festschrift book, reprinted at http://mises.org/daily/3794. To compare some copyright lawyer with a legal-libertarian scholar like Van Dun is odd. Van Dun is, in my view, wrong here, but then libertarians don’t agree on everything. But to compare him to … Patry? hugh?

Wildberry September 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Two comments:

I am referring specifially to Freedom as Property and the NAP, October 29, 2009.

1) I did not make a personal comparison, I compared a convergence of ideas. Your attempt to make it into a contest over peronal superiority is expected and typical. You have not read Patry anyway, so how do you know who’s the greater mind, and why does it matter?

2) You neglected to respond in any wayt that is meaningful or helpful, or advances a rational discussion. What else is new?

Wildberry September 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I wanted to add:

It is important that Van Dun wrote it, not that it appeared in “your” book.

How does your ego fit in the room? Is it’s enourmous girth related to the fact that you think yo are so far above just “some copyright lawyer”? Let me help you. You are prolific. Someone who writes hack-jobs for the Daily Smear may be prolific, but no one is going to confuse him with a scholar.

You are certainly not a scholar, libertarian or otherwise, though perhaps you like to think of yourself that way for your own reasons. The only one confused about that is you.

Stephan Kinsella September 25, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Patry is not a scholar in political theory. Van Dun is. He is a friend, and a good anarcho-libertarian. And he is on the Board of my journal, and has published in My Book. Sorry if this bugs you.

As for me being a “scholar,” I’m content to let my work and fans determine that for me. Or you can ask my students, or publishers, which include Oxford University Press, Oceana Publications, West/Thomson Reuters, Quid Pro Books, Mises Institute, and various law reviews.

sweatervest September 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

and this PARTICULAR natural rights theory

You are so confused. This is like speaking of a PARTICULAR theory of physics. Yes, there are multiple theories of anything. One of them is right and the rest of them are wrong. I’m not saying I know for sure which theory of physics is right, but I sure don’t suggest that which one is right depends on what we all agree is the right one.

Rereading Van Dun caused me to realize with increased clarity the reason Kinsella et al must reject the premise that “property is a human device” and thus a “means aimed at specific ends” (Mises), Van Dun’s analysis of the fundamental conflict between property and liberty, and hold so strongly to the natural rights metaphor of NAP as a complete and comprehensive theory of liberty.

This is total nonsense and I have addressed it more times than I can count. I do not reject the trivial tautology that human creation designed for a specific purpose is in fact a “human device”. Rather, I have explained over and over why something being a “human device”, like math and physics and logic and thinking, does not at all imply that humans get to choose how it must be constructed in order to fulfill its function. Math is a human device, but a non-functional one unless it is derived correctly.

Van Dun’s analysis of the fundamental conflict between property and liberty

Criminal nonsense, as liberty can only possibly refer to the employment of physical goods and so the conflict between freedom and property is the conflict between cooperation and theft. You either respect the property rights of others or you steal their property in the name of “your freedom”.

Because all rights, including property rights however they are defined, are a human device, they are subject to human judgment, and the ability and wisdom to ever more subtly distinguish one thing from another.

This applies to all knowledge and is therefore complete nonsense.

Such an outlook is not defeated by the notion that we must “hate the state”. The state is us.

Why does anyone here bother with you, and why do you waste time at this website? The state is us? We tax ourselves? Kinsella do you see this?

Have you figured out yet that mises.org is a site for people who reject this kind of doubletalking nonsense?

in contrast to a system of natural rights and hyper-individualism that is characteristic of what you called “Crusoe economics” where membership in society is voluntary, and secondary to natural rights we are born into.

Hyper-individualism? Once again what nerve do you have hanging out in a Mises blog calling yourself a Misesean? Are you aware he is the principal architect of the “methodological individualism” so dear to us?

Also, you have sufficiently demonstrated your inability to understand the role of Crusoe economics, which is a purposefully artificial academic construction used to gain insight into real-world problems, i.e. the way all theories work ever. You might as well reject physics for working mostly with friction-less problems that are impossible in the real world.

and that cooperation is both fundamental and universal to human nature and therefore society.

So does Rothbard. This observation is at the core of the entire Rothbardian framework.

However, if we reach agreement on commonly held objectives as ends

This is what you will never, ever wrap your head around Wildberry, and now that I know you are someone who subscribes to “the state is us” I can understand why. It is amazing how utterly brainwashed a little state education can make someone.

What you will never understand, being the statist collectivist that you are, is that your if will never, ever ever be realized. There will never be a day in human history where all 7 billion humans or however many around will all agree on what their ends should be. Not only is such a universal agreement beyond impractical and not even the purpose of society/property rights, it ignores, as you always do, the *only* problem at hand which is that not only do different people have different ends, but their ends are conflicting and cannot possibly be simultaneously met. The purpose of civilization, cooperation, and property is to allow people, with their different and possibly conflicting ends, to simultaneously reach as many of those ends as possible and be as satisfied as possible with the cases where their ends must go unmet to allow the ends of others to be met.

I wholly expect a statist collectivist who exclaims “the state is us” to be critical of “hyper-individualism” and the notion that only individual humans are actors that have ends and means and that the ends of an entire group or god forbid the entirety of humanity never line up. This is why you need a gang of thugs, i.e a state, to override the various conflicting ends of those lowly individuals so that their ends may be morphed into the ends of the collective, the ends that we “all” agree on by virtue of being forced to agree on them at gunpoint.

As I always say, that you call yourself a Misesean is disgusting. You are just like Glenn Beck. You pretend like you are really into books like the Road to Serfdom or whatever and then what actually comes out of your mouth would make the authors of those books turn over in their graves. The most you are accomplishing is de-legitimizing the works of Mises by mixing them up with your statist-collectivist doubletalk, the fight against which was the purpose of the entire career of Ludwig von Mises.

Stephan Kinsella September 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

“‘ Such an outlook is not defeated by the notion that we must “hate the state”. The state is us.’

Why does anyone here bother with you, and why do you waste time at this website? The state is us? We tax ourselves? Kinsella do you see this?”

Yep. I’m not surprised at all. It explains his stubborn and perennial hostility to people who have principles and are for rights, and who are anti-state.

Andras September 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Is it time to rename the site Kinsella.org or we can expect more hyperboles before?

Wildberry September 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

It explains his stubborn and perennial hostility to people who have principles and are for rights, and who are anti-state.

One would have to know Kinsella to have any idea what these equivocations actually mean. For better or worse, by now I know you pretty well.

Not that it really matters to me what you think at this point, but I am merely making poetic reference to self-government. Even if ALL forms of self-government WERE “dripping with evil” as you hold, it is still a human device, and as such subject to reform, and the responsibility of the subjugated to make such reform. To the extent we are human we are part of the human condition, as long as we live on this earth. If that condition includes a form of governance, a state, especially one which allows for peaceful revolution, then in actual fact, the state is us.

Your self-righteous hostility to “others” who do not drink your particular brand of Kool-Aid is well known by now and needs no further explanation.

I will simply observe that I can and do have principles, can be and am for rights, and do prefer grace to evil, yet find your views the kind of Kool-Aide employed by Jim Jones.

In that regard, I am grateful you are a black and insignificant gnat in a world filled with awesome creatures of wisdom and light, and am confident you will always be so.

I have much more faith and optimism in people than you. I don’t assume my views are needed to “show them the light”. Most people of average intelligence are smart enough to know when they’ve stepped in a pile of dung.

So with all due respect, Stephan, and not an ounce more, I think you stink.

Stephan Kinsella September 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm

One would have to know Kinsella to have any idea what these equivocations actually mean. For better or worse, by now I know you pretty well.

I am glad you learned the word “equivocate” from me.

Not that it really matters to me what you think at this point, but I am merely making poetic reference to self-government. Even if ALL forms of self-government WERE “dripping with evil” as you hold, it is still a human device, and as such subject to reform, and the responsibility of the subjugated to make such reform. To the extent we are human we are part of the human condition, as long as we live on this earth. If that condition includes a form of governance, a state, especially one which allows for peaceful revolution, then in actual fact, the state is us.

It is bizarre that you think it is some epiphany to say that law or government is a “human device”. Good luck with this profound insight.

Your self-righteous hostility to “others” who do not drink your particular brand of Kool-Aid is well known by now and needs no further explanation.

Wildberry, I apologize if my refusal to condone aggression against you or your property offends you. Really.

I will simply observe that I can and do have principles, can be and am for rights, and do prefer grace to evil, yet find your views the kind of Kool-Aide employed by Jim Jones.

But you are willing to condone the violation rights for your pet theory of the month. Congrats.

So with all due respect, Stephan, and not an ounce more, I think you stink.

Hmm, i wonder if you need to be banned.

Peter Surda September 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Kid Salami,

Once again, I’m not advocating it.

Once again, I know.

I want to know the reasons of someone advocating the NAP, one which will of course be consistent with their overall position.

I’m not advocating NAP (at least not in scientific discourse). In scientific discourse, I try to limit myself to falsificationism. As a falsificationist, I can only make these conclusions when a theory is presented to me:
- the assumptions are consistent with each other
- the assumptions contradict each other
- the assumptions are unintelligible

For simplicity, I’ll ignore the distinction between falsifiable consistent and unfalsifiable consistent because they are very rare in the debates here. If one says “Movable property can be homesteaded forever and land only possessed”, that falls into the first category. Unless more claims are presented to me, I can’t make any other conclusions.

There has to be some justification for why you don’t consider yourself an aggressor.

If you evaluate that in a bit more depth, you will realise the difference is not that big on this level. Block for example claims that in order to abandon property, you need to inform others, and allow them access. The absentee-land-ownership-opponents claim that you abandon land when you move somewhere else. That’s not really where a falsificanionist would a source of problem, if these were the only assumptions to consider.

However, when people argue, they typically make a multitude of claims. It’s much easier to find some that contradict each other. If they only make one or two, it could very well be consistent, but it might not actually sufficiently explain their position.

One example would be an open question whether property of land refers to the position relative to earth crust, or the soil as a physical object. The difference becomes apparent when you have an earthquake that moves chunks of land, for example. If you think about it, we only tend to perceive land as unmovable because that is how it usually behaves, not because it’s some inherent aspect of it. You might recall some time ago I asked the question (to Jay Lakner, I believe), what happens if you have homesteaded a piece of land, and someone “removes” the rest of the planet, leaving you without sufficient gravity and atmosphere?

So, is this it?

That’s an assumption that whoever is making an argument needs to make. My position is that there isn’t. My impression is that Kinsella does not see a difference either. I am not 100% sure about Block.

Kid Salami September 26, 2011 at 7:40 am

I don’t really understand, you seem to be telling me there is no need to answer my question.

If you evaluate that in a bit more depth, you will realise the difference is not that big on this level. Block for example claims that in order to abandon property, you need to inform others, and allow them access. The absentee-land-ownership-opponents claim that you abandon land when you move somewhere else. That’s not really where a falsificanionist would a source of problem, if these were the only assumptions to consider.

The idea that you have to “inform others” implies that you lose land if you don’t use it for some period of time ie. this requires a parameter. The possession theory doesn’t require a parameter – you’re either there or your not. Surely you need a reason to prefer a theory that requires an arbitrary parameter should be preferred over one that doesn’t require such a parameter?

Apparently not. You seem to be telling me you don’t “advocate” the NAP stance and so have no need to defend it. Erm, ok. But I suggest that someone acting in accordance with what you admit could well be a logically consistent (possession) theory has good reason to call an NAP advocate an aggressor in the scenario we discussed. This seems to be the kind of logical problem you would normally object to, which is why I brought it up in the first place.

However, when people argue, they typically make a multitude of claims. It’s much easier to find some that contradict each other. If they only make one or two, it could very well be consistent, but it might not actually sufficiently explain their position.

I don’t understand the relevance of this.

One example would be an open question whether property of land refers to the position relative to earth crust, or the soil as a physical object. The difference becomes apparent when you have an earthquake that moves chunks of land, for example. If you think about it, we only tend to perceive land as unmovable because that is how it usually behaves, not because it’s some inherent aspect of it. You might recall some time ago I asked the question (to Jay Lakner, I believe), what happens if you have homesteaded a piece of land, and someone “removes” the rest of the planet, leaving you without sufficient gravity and atmosphere?

Well, “position relative to earth crust, or the soil as a physical object” is not sufficient because of you owned land cut by fault line then what then? But to even have such a discussion shows that everyone has gone totally insane. You are trying to define things without including their relationship with human action – this is impossible.

My position is that there isn’t.

Ok I get it – there is physical and non-physical and there is no further fundamental difference between land or apples, and contracts are always just about exchanges of this physical stuff then they don’t need to care whether the physical stuff is soil or apples. So that’s it, all done. The history and current real-world common law and how it has evolved differently with respect to land as opposed to apples is, as we’ve established clearly, of no concern to you (although what happens when someone removes the rest of the planet except you house apparently is of concern to you?).

And there is aggression and non-aggression. As you’ve confirmed before, in the first categorisation there is no difference between a law forbidding blackmail and a law allowing murder. They are both aggression and that’s that – if on is lawful, the other is also, and vice versa.

Peter Surda September 26, 2011 at 9:25 am

Kid Salami,

I seem to have trouble understanding you.

The idea that you have to “inform others” implies that you lose land if you don’t use it for some period of time ie. this requires a parameter.

No. Just leaving it alone does not “inform others” that you abandon it (well, according to Block).

I am not claiming Block is right, I merely juxtaposed the two approaches. In both cases, a specific action means that you are not the owner anymore. In one case, it’s the unoccupancy, in the other it’s announcement and making accessible. For simplicity we’ll ignore that the first case applies only to land, the second to every property.

You bring up the “parameter”, but fail to address that the absentee-rejection also requires a parameter. Actually two. It needs to distingiush between land and other objects (which I explained in the planet-mover-example is problematic), and he would need to define how long the absentee ownership needs to last. What if I run or jump, does that count as being absent? You don’t really eliminate a parameter. You just shift it.

But these are not the question that I as a falsificationist need to consider apriori. I only need to consider it when I (or someone else) is building a more elaborate theory and starts mixing claims. It’s pointless to muse about hypotheticals merely because it is possible to construct arbitrary claims. I can make up a zillion other claims and say that they are (in isolation) a basis of a theory, but I would rightly expect others to ignore me.

Surely you need a reason to prefer a theory that requires an arbitrary parameter should be preferred over one that doesn’t require such a parameter?

There is no reason for me to prefer a absentee-land-ownership-rejectionist approach since noone is advocating that and I don’t think if they did, they would do that in a consistent manner. But if they did, I would be pushing along the occam’s razor line and attempt to get them to clarify their assumptions and to get them to explain why they are relevant in the first place.

You are trying to define things without including their relationship with human action – this is impossible.

The relationship to human action is only evaluable if you first define and evaluate the aspects of the question which are not dependent on human action.

there is physical and non-physical

No, there isn’t. Non-physical is just a particular interpretation of the physical.

there is no further fundamental difference between land or apples

This is merely an assumption. You can accept it or reject it. Per se it has no effect on the consistency of the whole theory.

contracts are always just about exchanges of this physical stuff

This is wrong. Contracts logically need to refer to an alteration of something physical as their basis, since there is no immaterial action and no immaterial observation. Also the part with exchange is of secondary importance.

I am starting to think that I completely missed the point of your arguments.

Kid Salami September 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

“I am not claiming Block is right, I merely juxtaposed the two approaches. In both cases, a specific action means that you are not the owner anymore. In one case, it’s the unoccupancy, in the other it’s announcement and making accessible. For simplicity we’ll ignore that the first case applies only to land, the second to every property.”

Yes, but in Block’s case, if you abandon your property and then don’t “inform” people, then…..what? After some time, it is ok for someone else to become the new owner. This minimum time period between abandonment and new ownership is a parameter.

“You bring up the “parameter”, but fail to address that the absentee-rejection also requires a parameter. Actually two. It needs to distingiush between land and other objects (which I explained in the planet-mover-example is problematic), and he would need to define how long the absentee ownership needs to last…What if I run or jump, does that count as being absent? You don’t really eliminate a parameter. You just shift it.”

OK, this is true yes – there is a parameter of “when is something on your person and when not”. Or if you toss an M&M into the air and open your mouth to catch it, can someone grab it and say you “abandoned” it? Ok, they both have a param.

“There is no reason for me to prefer a absentee-land-ownership-rejectionist approach since noone is advocating that and I don’t think if they did, they would do that in a consistent manner. But if they did, I would be pushing along the occam’s razor line and attempt to get them to clarify their assumptions and to get them to explain why they are relevant in the first place.”

I am free to advocate it though if I please, and if we agree that both theories are essenitally the same except they have a single parameter which very different in each case (short v long), then I still don’t see the basis on which you can deny my claim that you are aggressing against me by saying you have done this “homestead” thing on the land that I want to walk on. I want the reason because I want to use the answer against you elsewhere – if you don’t see why this is worth answering then that is an answer in itself.

“The relationship to human action is only evaluable if you first define and evaluate the aspects of the question which are not dependent on human action.”

I don’t agree with this and that this assumption might in fact the root of my disagreement here.

Peter Surda September 26, 2011 at 11:29 am

Kid Salami,

if you abandon your property and then don’t “inform” people, then…..what? After some time, it is ok for someone else to become the new owner.

According to Block, no. These two are necessary conditions. Abandoning in his theory does not mean absenteeism regardless of the length.

I am free to advocate it though if I please…

But you’re not. You’re merely constructing isolated claims.

if we agree that both theories are essenitally the same except…

We don’t agree. You did not present an equivalent theory. You just presented one claim. You omitted all the stuff around it that would make the scope comparable. So i can’t really address it other than it’s theoretically possible to construct a more elaborate theory based on it.

I don’t agree with this and that this assumption might in fact the root of my disagreement here.

I suspect maybe we misunderstanding.

If anything, Block’s approach makes the abandonment less problematic, because it requires that abandonment is a result of an agreement (unlike absentee-ownership-rejection, or long-enough-absentee-abandonment proponents).

Kid Salami September 27, 2011 at 9:10 am

When you said this

“You might recall that, for example I agreed with you that it is possible to switch land from homesteadable to only possessable-only. Theoretically. It leads to some practical issues but can be defined in a consistent manner.”

above I though you were saying, for arguments sake, that this possession-only theory is a logically consistent theory. I’m taking the position of someone advocating this theory that I thought you agreed was logically consistent and imagining a conflict and conversation he might have with someone else with the NAP-homesteading theory.

Peter Surda September 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

Kid Salami,

above I though you were saying, for arguments sake, that this possession-only theory is a logically consistent theory.

It is correct that possession-only approach can be defined in a consistent manner. But merely stating that does not actually explain the details and whether this would achieve the proclaimed goals (if the proponent has any). I can only repeat that I find it doubtful someone would fill in the details in a consistent manner and seriously propose it as a system he desires.

We agreed, for example that there is a question open how long a period of abandonment means that the rights are lost. We also agreed that some people arbitrarily divide goods into those that can be “absentee owned” and those that cannot. Also, as has been shown, some people arbitrarily arrange the claims in a specific unexplained order of precedence (for example for Adam, claim over land takes precedence over claim on other goods).

So, in your shiny new (old) theory, how do you address these things? What period do you take for relevant, or do you set it right at zero? Do you divide goods into absentee-ownable and non-ownable, or not? Do you propose a specific order of precedence for rights claim or not?

Stephan Kinsella September 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

Peter: “It is correct that possession-only approach can be defined in a consistent manner.”

Not sure this is right. To “define” something, to try to justify an approach, requires the advocate of that position to do it in the context of an argumentation: a civilized interpersonal discourse. And such an interaction involves certain normative assumptions that, I would argue, are inconsistent with a pure-possession approach, that is, with a non-property approach. A possession-only approach is basically non-normative; mights-makes-right. How can you engage in normative argumentative justification that there are no norms?

Peter Surda September 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Stephan,

And such an interaction involves certain normative assumptions that, I would argue, are inconsistent with a pure-possession approach, that is, with a non-property approach.

in a way, I agree. I do not think that anyone would seriously aim for a model based on this (assuming, of course, it’s defined consistently. Inconsistents we see a lot). But purely from scientific point of view, I’ll pretend that Kid is serious. I’m not sure why he’s doing it though, he knows it leads to conclusions he disagrees with.

A possession-only approach is basically non-normative; mights-makes-right.

it’s more like stamina and speed makes right: you have an advantage if you can carry more, and if you can snatch stuff that others perhaps unintentionally let loose.

Stephan Kinsella September 30, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Peter: “it’s more like stamina and speed makes right: you have an advantage if you can carry more, and if you can snatch stuff that others perhaps unintentionally let loose.”

Exactly. Except that this way of talking is saying there IS no right; that “right” is meaningless or irrelevant. “might makes right” means this too.

Wildberry September 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Sorry to intrude, but if I might…

Kid Salami says:

if you don’t see why this is worth answering then that is an answer in itself.

Then Kinsella asks:

How can you engage in normative argumentative justification that there are no norms?

Then Surda says:

It’s more like stamina and speed makes right: you have an advantage if you can carry more, and if you can snatch stuff that others perhaps unintentionally let loose.

And Kinsella agree and adds:

Exactly. Except that this way of talking is saying there IS no right; that “right” is meaningless or irrelevant. “might makes right” means this too.

It appears that Peter and Stephan have convinced themselves that in fact it is not worth answering, and give each other a pass to the essential question Kid is posing:

if we agree that both theories are essenitally the same except they have a single parameter which very different in each case (short v long), then I still don’t see the basis on which you can deny my claim that you are aggressing against me by saying you have done this “homestead” thing on the land that I want to walk on.

Surda says he doesn’t agree with this, but fails to explain why. I know why.

Asking what “abandonment” means is no different than asking what “possession” and/or “ownership” means. Block makes a stab at this by saying abandonment doesn’t arise until there is “notice”.

Neither Peter or Stephan want to say what their positon is. It is better to just stick with “you own sometig when you homestead it” and not get tied down by addressing the situations where this is clearly inadequate as a comprehensive theory of property rights.

To put it more poetically, they see the edge of the cliff and refuse to cross over it, or if you prefer more homey imagry, Kid places a cattle gate before the cattle, and they stop short because they recognized a trap when they see one.

This leaves the discussion with the false dichotomy of 1) the homesteading rule or; 2) might makes right (that is, if you can grab and go, the faster you are, the longer you can run, and the more you can carry means you “own” more stuff; i.e. just another way to describe “might”)

When you define the universe as containing only this or that, and you construct both to suite your conclusion, it is not really much of a debate.

Kid Salami September 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Not an intrusion at all. My last answer was in fact me giving up, life is too short – I feel like I’m asking a perfectly simple and obvious question yet am answered like I’m speaking in tongues. At least someone understands it.

Wildberry September 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Kid Salami,

No, not speaking in tongues. I admire your ability to cut to the core of the matter, but truth is you are not going to get a confession, and it is not because the simple meaning of “are you guilty?” can’t be made to be understood.

Thank you for remindig me of Van Dun. You have strong support for your views, just not here.

If you have a chance to read Patry, especially his treatment of metaphor, let me know. He dispenses handily the arguments of “natrual rights” in the context of copyrights, but has broader applicability to the general issue of argumentation as it “exists” on this site, at least in the realm of IP.

Cheers,

Kid Salami September 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm

“the false dichotomy of 1) the homesteading rule or; 2) might makes right”

This is exactly it. Apparently, there is no possible way for market participants to differentiate between a football that someone is bouncing on his head and one that burst weeks ago and he chucked into the sea. The ball is either gripped tightly or it, well, just must be up for grabs – no other rules are possible! More insanity.

Kid Salami September 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I did read the Danny Sanchez papers – I have to read them again though, I’m winging it in that area usually, don’t know a great deal. Patry is on my list – bit busy at the moment, largely because I’m spending most days staring in disbelief (and crying) at the silver chart!

Kid Salami September 30, 2011 at 3:46 pm

This one is good if you haven’t seen it.

http://mises.org/journals/jls/18_2/18_2_2.pdf

Wildberry September 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm

KS-

I’ll check this out, thanks. I think Van Dun gets it…

Don’t dispair on the silver (or gold). Given enough time, your holdings will look brilliant!

Wildberry September 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Kid Salami,

I read the Van Dun article you linked. All I can say is that I think he NAILS IT!!

I tried to find something he says that I object to, and I have to say he resonates with me, and has brilliantly and clearly expressed the difficulty I have had accepting the Kinsella (and Block) position on Rothbard and NAP.

Reading that article was a very satisfying experience. Thank you for the push.
WB

Peter Surda October 1, 2011 at 1:41 am

Wildberry,

Neither Peter or Stephan want to say what their positon is.

On the contrary, I have exactly specified what my position is.

It appears that Peter and Stephan have convinced themselves that in fact it is not worth answering,

I have answered all questions.

Surda says he doesn’t agree with this, but fails to explain why.

I specifically list the open questions.

You’re a liar but that’s an already generally known fact.

Peter Surda October 1, 2011 at 1:47 am

Kid Salami,

My last answer was in fact me giving up, life is too short – I feel like I’m asking a perfectly simple and obvious question yet am answered like I’m speaking in tongues.

I answered all your questions. If you don’t like my answers, I would prefer you addressed me directly rather than presenting accusations to others.

Peter Surda October 1, 2011 at 1:51 am

Kid Salami,

Apparently, there is no possible way for market participants to differentiate between a football that someone is bouncing on his head and one that burst weeks ago and he chucked into the sea.

Market does not act. People act.

The ball is either gripped tightly or it, well, just must be up for grabs – no other rules are possible!

This is the consequence of the rule you presented and we are considering. Again, it is hypothetically possible to construct other rules in a consistent manner. But nobody is presenting such a position.

Kid Salami October 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

WB – I think I had one minor quibble last time I read it in detail, something to do with libel, but glancing thorugh it now now I can’t see what it is. He does indeed nail it – I just realised that he actually uses the phrase “common knowledge” at one point, which I hadn’t realised last week when I had the misfortune of trying to discuss the nuances of this with some of the enlightened ones.

Wildberry October 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

@Kid Salami October 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Yes, in discussing liablity, he contrasts the robotic applicaion of t”the rules” with relevant considerations of the facts, including whether something is or not “common knowledge among the parties.”

I didn’t connect Rothbard and NAP to the “strict liability” theory in torts, which is exactly what it is. This theory has very limited application, like statatory rape or dangerous activities, and is not the general rule in assigning liability for very good reasons.

I will definately read more of him.

Take care,
WB

Virginia Llorca September 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

A characteristic of today’s society is that certain words have become commonly understood by the general public because of the proliferation of the issue the word describes. There are “TROLLS” everywhere. No matter what kind of social, professional, informational website you are on, someone will mention trolls. There is a woman at our WalMart who is a troll. She polices the parking lot for people who are parked in handicap spots in a way she deems unsuitable and goes in and makes WalMart call the police. Message boards in the publishing industry are full of trolls. You are only allowed to mention your own work on certain venues or threads. If you break this rule the troll hounds Amazon or facebook or Goodreads until you are banned. They are there not to comment but only to troll for misdemeanor. WTF? Why has this become so commonplace? Well, actually, we could use some lobbyist trolls I think.

Wildberry October 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Between this:

Peter Surda September 26, 2011 at 9:25 am

I seem to have trouble understanding you.

and this:

Peter Surda October 1, 2011 at 1:41 am

You’re a liar…

I’m going with the first one.

Peter Surda October 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Yet again Wildberry presents no argument, instead presents himself as being superiour.

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