Saturday, September 03, 2011

Natural Law and Bubble Theory

Once again, the book The Law of the Somalis (by Michael van Notten) has spoken to me about the Bubble Theory of Property Rights. (Here is the previous observation.)

Now, on page 212 I find:

"[Natural law] permits all activities that do not infringe upon the person or property of another. It takes priority over all other principles and rules that shape human society, including rules legislated by parliaments or established by contract."

Forbidding a person from simply possessing anything on his person (such as, perhaps a gun) on your property as a condition of him entering your property infringes on his person and violates Natural Law. His personal property, as long as it remains out of sight and is unused (makes no appearance outside his "bubble of personal property", does not infringe on your person or real estate in any tangible way. It may "offend" your sensibilities, but you have no right to not be offended. And any contract that attempts to negate Natural Law to suit the real estate owner's wishes is null and void since it violates Natural Law. It is exactly like the fact that slavery is not "OK, as long as you only do it on your own property".

At least, it seems clear enough to me.



  1. Yes, it's probably confirmation bias. ;)

  2. So if Charlie Manson gets parole and wants to shop at my paint store and wants to wear a 14 inche Bowie strapped to his belt I should be okay with it? Don't think so Kent.

  3. If you are dumb enough to allow Charles Manson to enter your store at all, then you must accept him as he is. Do you seriously believe he could be trusted if he didn't wear a bowie? You have nothing in your store that could be used as a weapon against you?

    No one has an obligation to do business with anyone else for any reason. That is where your boundary lies. The right of association is absolute.

  4. The quoted statement is clear, which is handy for showing the flaw.

    What is property is defined in part by contract. Law can either supersede contract and property, or supersede neither. It can't do one but not the other. This applies to natural law as with any.

    In fact, natural law defines both property and contract.

    Kent, can you give me a particular example where someone wants to stop you from carrying a gun on their property, but you think you should be allowed to anyway?

  5. I can not show you a particular example, because I don't think such a sign is ever "right", with the exception of a circumstance such as an extreme magnetic field which would cause any large chunk of metal to be dangerous.

    And it isn't just guns. A sign which forbid you from wearing underwear or socks, or forbid you from having certain thoughts inside your head, while of the posted property would be the same. It's just that "no gun" signs are the only real-world example I can think of.

    A sign which forbid you from wearing a yellow shirt or a hat while visiting would still be wrong, but since those things are visible while on the property, I would consider that a gray area.

    And, as I have continually said- I will still try to respect such signs and consider shunning the proper way to deal with people who demand that their visitors be slaves while on the property. And I would never, ever make such a demand of anyone I allowed on my property. If I allow you on my property, it is as a fully-functional human being with all your rights intact. If I don't trust you to be carrying a gun (or a disgusting thought) then I have no business allowing you on my property to begin with.

    And since I know it would be wrong for me to do, no matter what I might wish, I know it is wrong for others to do. I think such a shift in understanding would solve a lot of contrived problems.

  6. Oh, I just thought of another real-world example, even though it is a "policy", not necessarily a sign: Places which forbid people from having cell phones in their possession (not just a prohibition on using one).

  7. The claim that you can do X on my property whether I like it or not, so long as I can't see it, is a claim that my property isn't mine, but yours.

  8. Kn@ppster- You hafta do what you think is right, of course, but I can't bring myself to think it's OK for me to violate people's rights just because they are on my property. I have no obligation to invite them in, but once I do I certainly do have an obligation to not violate their rights.

    Because, as you say, "The claim that you can do X on my property whether I like it or not, so long as I can't see it, is a claim that my property isn't mine, but yours."

    I agree. And where does it end? At the individual's body. If you have no rights to your own body and its immediate, intimate surroundings, you have zero property rights at all, anywhere. You are the property of another person in that case, as long as you happen to be surrounded by their real estate. This is the excuse States use.

    It also seems rather clear that simply "possessing" something is not "doing" anything. This shows one reason drug prohibition, to me, is completely insane. Possession of anything can never be a legitimate "crime".

    A right of ownership includes a right to destroy. You have no right to destroy the property of another and a cellphone in your pocket will destroy nothing, except in extraordinary circumstances (in which case the "no cell phone" rule is proper and should be explained. If violated, and disaster occurs, the cell phone possessor is liable). If I own property I can use, dispose of, or destroy it as I see fit. I can allow people to enter it or not. What they possess while there has no bearing on, and is in no way using, disposing of, or destroying my property. I can not make the rules for their property even while they are on mine once I decide to allow them in. Nor can they force me to allow them onto my property in the first place. They don't own my property but they do own themselves, and if I choose to allow them on my property that comes with certain inalienable rights and consequences. Among them is that I can't decide some human rights are null and void. I can not violate their individual sovereignty as a legitimate condition of letting them on my property.

    This is how I will treat anyone who I invite onto my property. This is my personal pledge to you.

  9. Kent,

    Setting rules for the use of my property is not a "violation of your rights."

    You've put a considerable amount of verbiage into trying to carve out this "bubble" exception to the non-aggression principle, under which other people's property magically becomes yours if you really, really, really want it to and if they can't see what you're doing.

    At some point you're going to have to either accept the non-aggression principle or reject it, instead of trying to have it both ways.

  10. Define your version of "aggression". L. Neil Smith has agreed with me that this "bubble" does not constitute aggression.

    I view this in this way- My shadow is mine, yet it doesn't damage, harm, or destroy it if you step on it or shine a light on it. If I get angry over such things I show myself to be foolish. If you allow other people on your property, what they carry inside their heads or inside their pockets does not damage, harm, or destroy your property. When they are gone things are exactly as they were before.

  11. What I am doing is not "carving out an exception" to anything; I am pointing out the inconsistency in the long-standing, popular exception (which was carved out long ago) "under which other people's property magically becomes yours if you really, really, really want it to"- as long as they happen to be surrounded by your property.

  12. I have talked to some libertarians who are skeptical that property rights even exist. But I disagree: I think they are fundamental. I think they are on equal footing with the ZAP. I also think they are like a puzzle missing a very large piece as currently viewed.

    I am trying to restore that missing piece and repair the damage by pointing out that all property begins on your person. Until that is understood and respected, real estate property rights will suffer from this missing piece.

    Until everyone understands that they have no claim over you and your intimate surroundings, your property rights will be subject to the whims of others. Whether it is the State saying that as long as you don't "love it or leave it" you consent to whatever rules they say you are subject to, or the store owner claiming he has a right to your life, liberty, and property as long as you are in his store. It is his store, but he has no right to enforce a contract making you his slave while you are there. That is a violation of everything Natural Law is about.

  13. "as long as they happen to be surrounded by your property"

    But they don't "just happen" to be surrounded by my property. If you're on my property, you got there somehow, and you are either there peaceably (in other words, on terms we've agreed to) or non-peaceably (in other words, against my will).

    "Until everyone understands that they have no claim over you and your intimate surroundings"

    So far as I know, everyone involved in this discussion already understands and acknowledges that.

    Setting rules for the use of my property is not "a claim on you or your intimate surroundings." You are entirely free accept or reject the terms. If you reject the terms, your use of my property is trespass and aggression, and there's just no fucking way around it, Ken.

    And yes, I know L. Neil Smith agrees with you. He and I were arguing this long before you proposed it. He was wrong then, and he's wrong now.

  14. "...If you reject the terms, your use of my property is trespass and aggression..."

    Not when your terms are a violation of Natural Law. ;)

    It's interesting and educational (for any observers) to keep debating it, though.

  15. Kent,

    Well, that's just it. We're not "debating" anything. "Because I want it to be that way" isn't an argument.

  16. I wonder, since in the US and virtually everywhere else property "rights" in land are allocated, regulated, and ultimately wholly revokable by the state, just who is prancing about screaming "because I want it to be that way"?

    Sorry, it isn't that way. The true owner of "real" property is the government-they even give you a document declaring such. Unless you live in Louisiana, "your" property deed will state that it is held "in fee simple", or words to that effect, to the county or state-guess what, that means they own it. Period.

    If that's not enough, read the 5th Amd.

    Claiming that any resistance to property owners is aggression and immoral in light of this seems an odd position for those who oppose the State. They did, after all, steal that property-and in most cases divided it up and called it property- fair and square before they let you use it-how dare you aggress?

    That said, I disagree with Kent. I think it is a matter of decency to respect the desires of the inhabitants when entering someone's home or business-no matter if it is a palace officially "owned" and properly documented by the government or a squatter's shack.

  17. Decency and being nice, yes. Obligation, no. (*in my opinion*)

    Of course, shunning people who are so disgusting that they would make such evil demands upon you is the best way to deal with them, as shown in Libertopia.