How to rile Alex

Get him in front of some other bloggers and say:

It’s liability per se that isn’t justified by libertarian standards.  Under Lockean property rights theory, you own physical things, not the values of those things.  It is for this reason that if you set up shop next to a competitor, you are not infringing his property rights, even if his business ends up being  worth less.  So let’s say I steal your painting.  Yes, you do deserve your painting back.  It is yours.  But say I steal your painting and lose it or wreck it.  That should be the end of the story.  You never owned the "value of that painting."  You simply owned the physical painting.  You are not due compensation.  If you take my money as compensation for your loss, that is simply another theft.  All this talk about the "doctrine of rights forfeiture" is handwaving.  The forfeiture doctrine is a convenient utilitarian fiction (which I will partially endorse), not libertarian theory.  Rights aggressors do not, in fact, lose their own rights in turn.  Why should they?  Evreyone in prison is there unjustly and yes that includes murderers.  I will, of course, accept many of these injustices for utilitarian reasons; I am a good pluralist.


"Rights aggressors do not, in fact, lose their own rights in turn." This doesn't sound like any libertarian theory I've ever heard of. It's certainly not consistent with restricting only the initiation of force, since the rights aggressor here has initiated force -- twice. First, by stealing the painting (in legal jargon, trespass to chattels), then by destroying it rather than returning it (in legal jargon, conversion). Prior possessors have superior claims either to recover the painting itself or to collect damages in lieu thereof.

The kinds of force the victim or his agents, or legally authorized third parties such as the police and courts, are entitled to use against the thief are interesting matters of procedural law, but it's certainly not the case that they are as restricted as thief was prior to the theft. Even if the theft is only a matter of suspicion, or only probable, legally authorized people have gained some rights to use force and the alleged thief has lost some: the default duty not to initiate force has been altered by the suspicion or probability that the alleged thief has already initiated force.

Furthermore, I've read about the law in quite a few societies and I can't think of a single society that ever actually forbad monetary damages in such situations. Monetary damages -- even for various kinds of incorporeal damages -- were and are as universal as money itself. (Defining "money" here to include precious metals, shells, livestock, and similar). Indeed, legal fines, called by the Germanic tribes "bot," are practically as universal as media of payment in prehistoric societies, and even (contra Menger) antedate efficient markets as a primary use for such "intermediate commodities".

There are, of course, errors and costs when third parties measure the values of things, but this generally hasn't stopped legal systems from doing so, even absent modern markets which by setting prices make this task easier for many kinds of things.

So who made this particular statement? Tyrone? An anonymous audience member?

(I have, by the way, run into that particular variety of crank-libertarianism before. I have found the following line of response fairly effective: "I really don't want to talk with you.")

Yes - curious about the source for this. It has the kind of impractical theorizing I associate with David Friedman but doesn't really match his brand of anarchocapitalism...

Imagine I steal a painting from you. I sell it to a third party for $1,000,000. They wreck it. What libertarian theory says you can't get the $1,000,000 I got from it?

Alex is right. here is what Locke himself said:

Two Treatises of Government by John Locke (1689)

OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. BOOK II. - CHAPTER II. Of the state of nature.

§ 8.

And thus, in the state of nature, “one man comes by a power over another;† but yet no absolute or arbitrary power, to use a criminal, when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will; but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictate, what is proportionate to his transgression; which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint: for these two are the only reasons, why one man may lawfully do harm to another, which is that we call punishment. ...

§ 11.

... the magistrate, ... can often, where the public good demands not the execution of the law, remit the punishment of criminal offences by his own authority, but yet cannot remit the satisfaction due to any private man for the damage he has received. That, he who has suffered the damage has a right to demand in his own name, and he alone can remit: the damnified person has this power of appropriating to himself the goods or service of the offender, by right of self-preservation, ...

Libertarianism without foundations! Libertarianism without foundations!

Great troll, Tyler!

Hey, I'm sorry. I don't think I have ever trolled a site, but clearly I just did. In case the joke did not strike you as funny, I retract it.

Imagine I steal a painting from you. I sell it to a third party for $1,000,000. They wreck it. What libertarian theory says you can't get the $1,000,000 I got from it?

The one that doesn't think there should be any organization with the authority to compel you to pay.

Isn't that any government organization?


Don't misunderstand. I am not an advocate of the kind of libertarianism I mentioned.

Courts need not be coercive to function. Two parties may agree to judicial review of their case voluntarily, or they may choose to duke it out.

Or one may choose to duke it out despite the other's wishes to settle the matter in court. Which is why the courts need to be coercive.

Unjust to punish a murderer under strictly libertarian doctrine; this was posted as a parody, right?

Russel Nelson: "...if a court has the right to assign blame and a remedy, anybody who uses violence to implement that remedy is doing so legitimately."

This is a matter of procedural law, which works on a logic far different from substantive law. The basic axiom of libertarian substantive law (to the extent it can be reduced to an axiom) is non-initiation of force. Procedural law stats from answering the following question: given what the substantive law says about harm and remedy, what are the best ways to execute that remedy: that is, what are the most practical procedures by which to bring about that remedy? Many considerations must go into this. Probably the most important consideration is how to prevent the power to execute remedies from being abused: but this cannot be deduced merely from analyzing the justice of the case at hand. In reality, we probably must fall far short of perfect justice in particular cases in order to prevent the even greater injustices that come from coercive remedial power being abused.

Bernard: "We agree, as citizens, that we will use the courts to settle certain types of disputes."

I take it that you are using "agree" only in the very metaphorical sense used by political scientists when they talk about "social contracts." The only cases where we actually consent to jurisdiction (as "consent" is usually used in the law, i.e. as it is used in contract and tort law, to mean actual or implied personal consent) is when we sign contracts with arbitration clauses.

The U.S. Supreme Court has used a kind of fictive consent for state jurisdiction: if you have "minimal contacts" with a state, for example by visiting there or selling your product there, then you have "consented" to being hauled into a court of that state.

For yet another interesting model of jurisdiction (based on property rather than on metaphorically implied contract), see:

"It is for this reason that if you set up shop next to a competitor, you are not infringing his property rights, even if his business ends up being worth less."

A grand misunderstanding of value theory. Values are not set in stone. If the scarcity or the consumer values for your property change, the value changes. Those who believe we own the value of our property don't believe that value is unchangeable, but that destruction of that value through non-supply-or-demand means is immoral.


I do not believe that "anything substantially different than what [I've] been taught in school must be evil." Even those who disagree with you are capable of independent thought.

I admit that I found your blog post unclear, and am unwilling to slog through more of the same. Still, it seemed to describe a system whereby kings grant jurisdiction over some areas to preferred subjects. This doesn't strike me as a good idea. If you do not endorse warlords or hereditary monarchy then we agree on these matters, though I do not know what you do endorse.

While your rights may not be taken from you, they can be given away, just like any other possession. If one, by his/her behavior, abdicates his 'rights' (by impinging on another's) then imprisoning him/her is merely obliging this abdication.

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