Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'll just cut and paste this for now

And figure out what to say later.

Update - here we go - new intro (thanks to Tef for sparking this): Libertarians are always being hit with dumb, unlikely situations like these to argue against the universal validity of property rights. I think Molyneux answers them marvelously here.

The two scenes begin 1. with a guy hanging from a flagpole outside my window. He kicks in my window to escape from his predicament; and 2. I see a guy in the water drowning and I grab your lifesaver.

From the FDR Blog:
...[W]e can see that the man who kicks in my window would be doing so with a reasonable expectation that I would prefer him to do so rather than fall to his death – just as a surgeon who cuts into my throat while I am choking reasonably assumes that I would prefer him to do so rather than allow me to die.

If permission cannot be reasonably gained about the use of property ahead of time, then it can always be sought after the fact. If I grab a lifesaver from your boat in order to throw it to a drowning man, it scarcely seems reasonable for me to imagine that you would prefer that I let the man drown rather than “steal” your property.


...[I]f you would have preferred that I fall to death my rather than kick in your window, then of course I am liable for the property damage that I have incurred. My “guess” as to how you would want your property to be used has turned out to be false, just as if I had taken your car thinking that you wanted me to, when it turns out that you considered my action to be rank theft.

Naturally, for any of this to occur, a man must be hanging from a flagpole, have no other option than kicking in a window, and the man whose window is kicked in must have preferred that the hanging man fall to his death – and the man who has saved his life by kicking in a window must refuse to pay any and all restitution for the window he has broken.

Such a circumstance will never arise in this or any other universe. The endless pursuit of these topics tells us much more about the limitations of ethicists than it does the limitations of ethics.


Tef said...

Perhaps you are reading too much into it...

It could well be the people in such a state have no desire to be saved. This makes both your acts of saving him and theft - in order to save him - rather... dumb?

The probligo said...

The Ockham's Razor solution to this is very simple and is contained in the very last sentence of FDR's writing...
The endless pursuit of these topics tells us much more about the limitations of ethicists than it does the limitations of ethics.

By his own admission, he is an ethicist...
I have worked for the past few years on developing a rational proof for secular ethics, which I talk about in my book Universally Preferable Behaviour. In it, I discuss the oft-cited example of the man on the flagpole.

Case closed as far as I am concerned.

Al said...

So you reject ethics completely?

The probligo said...

No, not at all. Ethics is (has been) a very important part of my professional life.

My objection is to the over-simplistic, pre-determinate and childish prim misses that these self-appointed, so-called "ethicists" use. They differ little from the "big hairy slavering knife-wielding animal that tries to rape your wife in the middle of Wall St as you are walking home from the theatre" scenarios used by those who try to justify the Second Amendment.

How is about these idiots akakakkaakk... experts try arguing the ethics of using other peoples money to place their wagers in a casino?

My comment centred on the self-contradiction that the writer had proposed. It is almost as good as the "Cretan liar" dilemma.


Al said...

Aw, blame me for being a lousy exerpter.

Al said...

"Excerptor." I probably just coined that term, too. I like the "o" better - it makes it look more authoritative.