Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Bubble Theory" in Science News?

In the June 18, 2011 issue of Science News, on page 17, (Here's the online link) I read something that bolsters my idea of the Bubble Theory of personal property rights.

"Rather than being learned from parents, a concept of property rights may automatically grow out of 2- to 3-year-olds' ideas about bodily rights, such as assuming that another person can't touch or control one's body for no reason, Friedman proposed." (Emphasis mine)

Yes, it does say "may", but I think it is clear, and not only from this, that property rights grow out of bodily rights and therefore can't be superior to bodily rights.



  1. I don't know about that one, Kent. I read the article, and to be honest it sounds much more like what is observed is the effect of nurture-i.e. parents setting boundaries, etc., rather than anything inherent.

    If property "rights" are somehow really "naturally" occurring then they should be pervasive throughout the animal kingdom, yes? It really isn't though, is it? there might be some territorial instincts, but those really are not "property", and certainly there is no notion that possessions "rightfully" belong to one or another member of a group.

    Why should human's somehow be unique? This read quite a bit like a case for human beings being somehow separate from animals-like they were created that way?

  2. If that is a case of "nurture", then it seems to be a case where the effect is opposite to the intent of the nurturing. Parents seem to universally attempt to dilute the kids' notions of property rights to a more socially acceptable level, in spite of the kids' natural inclinations. If the notion of "mine!" starts out at zero (at birth), and then peaks at that young age before diminishing once again, I see a case of nurture being the cause of the lessening of the instinct rather than of the earlier peaking. But as I say, I am biased.

    I've been around animals, both wild and domestic, my whole life and have seen a lot of expressions of property rights. Beyond territoriality.

    But even territoriality is an expression of property rights; just not a terribly advanced one. Without speaking the animal's language and thinking the same thoughts the animal does, how can you know whether they consider something "rightfully" theirs or not? Maybe they do; maybe they don't. But in some cases they defend their "rights" to the death when it would be simple to walk away.

    Animal minds are a spectrum. There is nothing that humans do mentally or emotionally that is fundamentally different than what other animals do- we just take some things a lot further and then try to ignore similar traits in other animals. It is like claiming the point of the pyramid is not built upon the layers beneath it. We are unique only to the extent that we are more "extreme" in some things and more "reserved" in others. The difference is mainly an artifact of our perspective and religions.

    We may "love" and claim that no other animal "loves", but if "love" is seen as an emotional attachment, then clearly other animals do love, just not to the same extent that most humans do. And those animals more closely related to us love in ways more similar to the ways we love.

    Property rights express themselves in other animals, but only we (as far as we know) debate about them and worry over whether they are right or wrong or natural or invented. Other animals simply live them and defend them without getting caught up in the philosophy of it all. Or, so we suppose.