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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Voegelin on "Self-Ownership"

I've always thought the concept of "self-ownership," so loved by many libertarians, is a little screwy: Man is not a good he owns, he is himself. To the common comeback, "If you don't own yourself, then who does?" my answer has been, "No one, just like no one owns arithmetic or the night sky." But Voegelin is a little harsher:

"The history of political thought does not offer an attack on the dignity of man comparable to [Locke's] classification of the human person as a capital good, to the undisturbed economic use of which one has a natural right. The ancient division of men into freemen and natural slaves, or the modern distinction of superior and inferior races, admits at least of the dignity of a part of mankind and justifies he disregard for the rest by the argument that it consists of an inferior breed of man. But the blunt assertion that man is an instrument of economic production... is again as unique an idea as the Lord's Lunch."

33 comments:

  1. Brian N.9:11 PM

    For all his whining, Voegelin hardly offers a substantive attack. As with the earlier post, I'm guessing he set out from the beginning to trash Locke, and didn't care if he got it right. Ah, well, there's always his brutal mockery of Martin Heidegger to make up for being a complete dunce on methodological individualism. Besides which, his pissing over a self-evident fact, that man makes use of his own physical substance first and foremost in producing anything, is a myopic refusal to face reality. It's like encountering the disgusting hatred of labor and trade in Aristotle, all over again.

    As to self-ownership proper, the problem is that you're either not seeing the distinction between an individual's conscious will and the physical stuff of the body that will controls, or you deny such a distinction. If one operates from a position recognizing it, certain ideas, such as Rothbard's criticism of the existential possibility of a legitimate voluntary slave contract come into clear focus and become perfectly intelligible. If one is an atheist, one might reject this distinction (I am, and I most certainly do not, however) in favor of a strict materialism which leads naturally to your counter. I argue that the sapient consciousness of the human mind and free will are made up of something greater than the sum of their physical parts, even though, ultimately, they do devolve to them. Given that, it necessarily follows that we speak of an acting consciousness or will which can be considered apart from the body to which it is attached purely for purpose of analysis. It then follows then that the will directs the body (as it directs all it homesteads) and so the physical body controlled by the will (or ego, if you prefer) is the first physical property it obtains, by virtue of that act. I can think of certain 'sci fi' scenarios that are completely irresolvable outside this understanding. They probably won't be science fiction forever.

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  2. Brian, anyone who considers Voegelin's sophisticated philosophical analysis to be "whining" is probably beyond redemption.

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  3. "Besides which, his pissing over a self-evident fact, that man makes use of his own physical substance first and foremost in producing anything, is a myopic refusal to face reality."

    In any case, man does not "make use of his own physical substance," man is the union of particular physical and spiritual realities. For an atheist, you're awfully contemptuous of the material aspect of being human!

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  4. Oh, and if you want to sustain this division, if man's spirit owns his physical body, then who owns his spirit?

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  5. Oh, and by the by the way, Locke first asserts that God owns all humans. Then, without blinking an eye, or with any explanatory bridge, he asserts that all humans own themselves. How do you propose to reduce that obvious bit of philosophical amnesia to "whining" on the part of Voegelin?

    Or, perhaps, you have not even read Locke, and are just attacking Voegelin based on Rothbard's Cliff Notes version of Locke?

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  6. Gene,

    I may just be repeating Brian's point, though I'm not sure since I lost him halfway through the post...

    Anyway I really liked C.S. Lewis' line:

    "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."

    What's interesting is that on this interpretation, I would think you could sell your body into slavery. So that's why I don't know if I'm agreeing with Brian...

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  7. Oh, and by the by the by the way, if you understand that Rothbard was a philosophical ignoramus, then the utter depravity of some of his "findings," such as his holding that it is legally permissible for parents to allow their children to starve to death, come into "clear focus."

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  8. Brian N.1:13 AM

    First, reread what you quoted; Voegelin doesn't actually argue the point; he just says, 'this is stupid.' That's what I was responding to, just then.

    "For an atheist, you're awfully contemptuous of the material aspect of being human!"

    I'm not Aristotle. I'm not contemptuous of labor or trade. I start from the conceptual point, which I see as necessary to ontology and ethics, that the mind or will or ego that directs the body is ontologically (and ethically) prior to the physical substance of said body. The point was to separate out the unique aspects of the problem, as pertains to humans. I'm not going to get into the ethical natures of weasels, cat fish or snails.

    "Or, perhaps, you have not even read Locke, and are just attacking Voegelin based on Rothbard's Cliff Notes version of Locke?"

    I'm not really defending Locke. I'm pointing out problems that would remain in Voegelin's statement no matter what Locke said. Locke could have said that the whole universe is really composed of gummy worms for all I care. Besides, I don't believe in God, so I don't address that leap in logic. If I were a real jack-ass I'd just say that Locke came to his senses mid-argument, and abandoned a nonsensical fairy-tale for a realistic position. But then, I'm not saying that.

    "Oh, and by the by the by the way, if you understand that Rothbard was a philosophical ignoramus, then the utter depravity of some of his "findings," such as his holding that it is legally permissible for parents to allow their children to starve to death, come into "clear focus.""

    You could just tell me to leave. That would be the polite thing to do. I won't defend that statement, as I think Rothbard made a terrible mistake in taking that line, but I seriously doubt it was out of sheer ignorance or depravity, as you so very carelessly ascribe. To ignorance I need only point out Rothbard's obvious erudition, to depravity I point out his attempts to build libertarian arguments on a moral, rather than utilitarian or pragmatic, foundation. But, while you may be more interested in bitching about Rothbard, I won't indulge your fixation on that any further, ever again, except to agree with you here, for my own reason: As I see it a child is as a drowning man thrown into a lake, who cannot swim. Rendered helpless by the actions of others, those others are quite obviously obliged to remedy the situation. Realizing this (and theorizing a legal code based on this) militates what I think we both not only already know, but you (a parent) and I (not one, but may some distant day become one) should like to impress on all those who might end up doin' the nasty without proper protection first; parenting is a heavy responsibility, shirking which is criminal.

    "Oh, and if you want to sustain this division, if man's spirit owns his physical body, then who owns his spirit?"

    This is, so far, the only substantive attack on the concept of self-ownership, and it doesn't appear in your original post. The division is for purely analytical purposes (I don't use the term in the Kantian sense, of course) to realize an important point; we cannot describe the human mind purely in terms of neural pathways, and I explicitly reject supernatural explanations as both overcomplicated and makeshift, as well as unscientific. We cannot describe consciousness in purely biological terms, not in satisfactory way, and with the supernatural terms rejected, it becomes necessary to apprehend that aspect of man's nature (his will) while at the same time apprehending the limits of our knowledge. We would be remiss in constructing a derivative field such as ethics on knowledge that is insufficient. We know the consciousness is there in every normal human but we cannot precisely determine *how* it is there. We are left, I argue, to speak of it as a gestalt or as some separate entity in some other fashion. To answer your question, the will is, in what I'm postulating, a primary element; it is the thing which homesteads but which is itself not homesteadable. Not being physical, we are not in any sense left at any kind of impasse in constructing a system of ethics around this; after all, the libertarian legal code is meant to deal with property damage. For example, irresponsible parents leaving a child to starve, have violated the rights of the child by destroying the child's physical property in the form of its body, when they were personally responsible to ensure its well-being until the point when the child (not, I hasten to add, the child's body) was able to homestead itself, and take adult control of its own life. My atheism demands a condemnation that cannot be fully expressed in words. You see, denying the immortal soul, I'm forced by that to accept that the child is now destroyed, not just the child's body. I don't know what kind of a legal code would emerge out of that, but I will say that murder would most certainly be an offense beyond any other. The only rights violation where there's no paying the damages back. It is not enough to stand in mute horror or doubled over in tearful, screaming outrage at such a thing, something must be done to remedy the situation, but what? If we were in one situation imagined by Block, one of those science fiction scenarios I mentioned earlier, we could simply suck the 'life' out of the killer or killers, and give it to the victim or victims. We aren't in such a situation, however.

    As much as I find value in the homestead and self-ownership theories, I'm no big fan of Locke, who stood on better shoulders than his own.

    I've checked this over for coherency and the like, and I think it holds together intelligibly. If not, please ask for specific clarifications.

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  9. Gene, to own means the right to control. Who has the right to control your body? You do, absent exceptions (like you are in jail for committing a crime). The right to control means "to own". The question is about who has the right to decide who can use your body. The libertarian answer is: you have that right. That's what "self-ownership" means. There's nothing confused about it. Who has the right to control your body? You.

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  10. "Besides which, his pissing over a self-evident fact, that man makes use of his own physical substance first and foremost in producing anything, is a myopic refusal to face reality."

    OK, let's see if I can do philosophy this way: It is a self-evident fact that I must make use of the physical universe in order to produce anything. Therefore, I own the physical universe!

    Wow, I like this. Brian, get that body of yours out to my place in Pennsylvania -- we got a lot of yard work to do!

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  11. Bob, while I'm sympathetic to Lewis's formulation, I think it's too Cartesian. While on this earth, we are a unity of body and soul.

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  12. Stephan, here I think we have a circular argument based on wishful thinking. Libertarians want to assert an untrammelled right to control their own bodies in areas like suicide and abortion. So they hunt around for a basis for such a right. "Hmm, what do we have a right to control? Things we own!" Therefore, they assert, "Everyone owns his own body."

    But, when asked, "What does this mean, I own my own body?" the answer is "You have the right to control it!"

    So, it appears "self-ownership" is just a different name for the conclusion sought in the first place, and not at all a means to reach that conclusion! The concept is what we call "otiose."

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  13. Brian, per your metaphysics, it would seem that the body should own the will, since it was around first, and, in fact, produced the will.

    But let's grant that the will owns the body. Then, in a case where the bodily passions overmaster the will, should the body be prosecuted for theft? (After all, Seargent Pluck did arrest a bicycle at one point.) Is the body at that point unowned and ripe for homesteading?

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  14. Brian N.8:17 AM

    "OK, let's see if I can do philosophy this way: It is a self-evident fact that I must make use of the physical universe in order to produce anything. Therefore, I own the physical universe!"

    You don't make use of the "physical universe" at large, Callahan. You will, at most, make use of particular parts of it. You're iterating the same rotten fallacy that says 'society' does anything, as opposed to the individuals actually doing who are really appealing to an imaginary entity to bolster their illegitimate acts. My point is that he was looking at a self-evident reality and complaining about it in a fit of either hysterics or simple vitriol. Whether it establishes some basic relationship of ownership is another point entirely. To me it's an objection on the order of objection to negative numbers, or the double-slit experiment, or the post-modern attacks on science. It commands no respect, but something less than outrage.

    "Brian, get that body of yours out to my place in Pennsylvania -- we got a lot of yard work to do!"

    Callahan, you're on double-secret probation now. Besides, I'm a lousy worker. I eat a lot, I move slowly, I complain and you know what they say about slave labor; you get what you pay for.

    "But let's grant that the will owns the body. Then, in a case where the bodily passions overmaster the will, should the body be prosecuted for theft?"

    Is it a permanent condition? If not, the consciousness that normally exercises control (when it returns) has the priority. However, whether one lost physical control or not, one is morally responsible for what one's personal property (including one's body) does. If someone stole a truck and crashed into a local dynamite plant, they would be responsible for at least one more crime than "crashing someone's truck into someone else's dynamite plant, without permission of either owner" and that would be stealing the property. Likewise, if someone came up with some awful Manchurian joy juice and shot you full of it, they'd be responsible for what resulted of that.

    As to a natural occurrence of it, that's difficult for me to resolve; on the one hand you own your body and if no one else took it from you, you're still responsible for it, as a parked vehicle that rolls down a driveway and kills someone, or cattle gets loose and goes on a rampage through china shops all over town. On the other, one did not positively act with malice while one was so short-circuited. It would be a consideration, but before the problem of restitution it is at most ancillary to restoring the physically damaged property.

    "Brian, per your metaphysics, it would seem that the body should own the will, since it was around first, and, in fact, produced the will."

    Unfortunately for our discussion, I don't presume even that much. I'm saying that, in an empirical fashion, we do not (cannot?) know how this uniquely human phenomenon comes into existence, only that it does, and I am driven, by the uniqueness and the essential characteristics of it to treat it as prior to the body it controls. Otherwise we speak not of a conscious acting being, but of an automaton of human parts. To a theist, quite naturally, the problem of soul is totally ignored (and if it leaves the body at death, either to be reincarnated or to join God in heaven, it must be an entity prior to or apart from the physical body) and this automaton conception does not take into account something they might see as essential. Forgetting that tangent to back to the point,

    But let's grant that for a moment and let's suppose that the will is actually a tenant in the physical body. It then follows that the will is obliged to maintain the body's well being so long as it occupies it. However, the epistemological dilemma (how do we really know when the body has 'fired' the mind?) and the moral problem of making that call, beyond resolution to the hard-and-fast of a specific rule or to a continuum is a thorn that does not seem removable. A competing market for consciousness, however, is a bit too much for me. We haven't even built teleportation systems or flying cars yet. I'm going to back off on this one, and I hope you won't pursue this line as I'm not going down it again, ever, if I can manage it.

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  15. 'You don't make use of the "physical universe" at large, Callahan. You will, at most, make use of particular parts of it.'

    You will use only parts of your body to produce. Is it OK for others to grab the rest?

    "You're iterating the same rotten fallacy that says 'society' does anything, as opposed to the individuals actually doing who are really appealing to an imaginary entity to bolster their illegitimate acts."

    I knew what I was saying was fallacious -- I was attempting a reductio of your position. In any case, though, I think it's the opposite fallacy of that committed by collectivists.

    "My point is that he was looking at a self-evident reality and complaining about it in a fit of either hysterics or simple vitriol. Whether it establishes some basic relationship of ownership is another point entirely."

    Brian, his whole complaint was about whether it established anything about ownership, not about whether we work with our bodies! Do you really think anyone who questions "self-ownership" doubts we do work with our bodies, or that they have "over-looked" this?! They just don't think it shows what you think it shows.

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  16. I am paralyzed... My first rule in arguments is to disagree with Kinsella on ownership issues. But my second rule is to disagree with Callahan whenever he is criticizing Rothbard.

    I must recuse myself from this thread before my head explodes.

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  17. Brian N.11:41 AM

    Mr. Callahan, three points;

    1, One is always and at all times using the whole of their physical self. Even when sitting on their ass commenting on someone else's weblog. No one else is the primary motivator and director of its actions.

    2, Voegelin asserts that the idea of self-ownership is an affront to human dignity. He's complaining about the self-evident. He certainly grasps it, and doesn't like it one bit.

    3, The fallacy I identify in the original statement is to treat the concept "society" "the universe" "Phil Donahue" etc. as if they're real things, and not actually a mental tool to describe real things. It's still considered debatable by some I talk to whether conceptual realism is even a fallacy.

    Lastly;

    Mr. Murphy, I'm very sorry if I've been obscure. I don't wholly agree with the tack Rothbard takes on that point. I approach his work as I do every intellectual and body of knowledge. I act like a beggar at a banquet. I take what I can that is nourishing, and cast aside what I find to be unfit for consumption. The results are, you can see here, not uniformly good.

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  18. Brian, if you going to assert utter rubbish, there isn't much point in talking, is there? Are you telling me you used your appendix in making the previous post? Or, to put it another way, would it have been one iota more difficult for you to make it without your appendix?

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  19. "Voegelin asserts that the idea of self-ownership is an affront to human dignity. He's complaining about the self-evident."

    Brian, are you intent on changing your position with alternating posts? Who are you, Keynes? The previous post you said that's what's "self-evident" is that we use our bodies to produce things, and that "whether it establishes some basic relationship of ownership is another point entirely."

    Now you are asserting that it obviously does> establish some basic relationship to ownership -- which is, of course, the very matter under dispute.

    So which post do you "own"? Then I can know what I'm disputing!

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  20. Brian N.2:24 PM

    "Are you telling me you used your appendix in making the previous post? Or, to put it another way, would it have been one iota more difficult for you to make it without your appendix?"

    When I was typing the post, was I just typing a post? Were you? If someone suddenly removed it by, say, slicing me open, I'd be in serious trouble, wouldn't I? Living, that is, sustaining biological life from moment to moment, is itself a use of our physical bodies. That is, to possess them is to use them. Even the parts that don't really do anything.

    Perhaps I was unclear but the comparison to Keynes is beneath juvenile Callahan. My point was in examining Voegelin's statements, that he complains about a self-evident fact as much as he does the implications Locke draws from it. It was necessary to distinguish the one point from the other, that people own themselves is distinctive from the other notion. I have dealt with that elsewhere, and I won't recapitulate myself again.

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  21. Keynes was a brilliant man, Brian. He just changed his mind a lot.

    In any case, off to Europe for 10 days! Dispute with you when I get back!

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  22. Brian N.7:08 PM

    "Keynes was a brilliant man, Brian. He just changed his mind a lot."

    That's a bit like saying Ted Bundy was a nice guy but he had trouble with women now and again. Mere intelligence is often worse than useless to those that have it and an utter disaster to those who exist in its wake.

    You can say what you will, I'm done with this. I can't possibly see this conversation bearing any useful fruit in the future. I can strenuously argue my point only so long, and I don't have stamina for this sort of thing.

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  23. Brian,

    I haven't read up on Locke, Voegelin, etc., so that's partly why I didn't understand your first post.

    But what confused me is that I thought you and I were in agreement that one's will or ego is distinct from one's body. But then in that case, I don't understand why you would think your body is unalienable.

    I.e. it's true that I can't legally sell you, say, the legal right to make me agree with a proposition you will utter in 10 seconds, because I can't compel my future self to think a certain way.

    On the other hand, there is nothing contradictory about me selling you the right to have my body utter the words, "I agree with what you are saying."

    I probably just made that more confusing than it needed to be. Anyway, my point is that I would've thought Rothbard's point on the impossibility of voluntary slavery would mesh with Gene's take on body/spirit, rather than yours. And yet you two have gone the other way vis-a-vis Rothbard on this.

    Finally, I don't agree that Rothbard's views on children are so self-evidently awful. There is a distinction between legality and morality. Gene's going to talk about the law of the sea etc. and that may be right, but I'm just saying I think it is too flippant just to say, "Ugh! You have to feed little kids! What a jerk Rothbard is!"

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  24. This is good enough for an economic dimbulb like me: a thing is owned by its creator, their (my solution to the gender problem) buyer, or beneficiary or other recipient at the previous owner's will. Thus the integers belong to God, and I belong to my mother and father. I find this quite tolerable.

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  25. As to the C. S. Lewis quote, L. Ron Hubbard originated or stole the exact same pronouncement.

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  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  27. I have a long post up at Distributed Republic responding to the original post and subsequent comments.

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  28. Gene,

    You originally wrote, "I've always thought the concept of "self-ownership," so loved by many libertarians, is a little screwy: Man is not a good he owns, he is himself. To the common comeback, "If you don't own yourself, then who does?" my answer has been, "No one, just like no one owns arithmetic or the night sky.""

    My response was limited to the question of whether "self-ownership" as a concept is "a little screwy". I was not seeking to justify the libertarian view, but simply to show that it's coherent and sensible. So I answered, "Gene, to own means the right to control. Who has the right to control your body? You do, absent exceptions (like you are in jail for committing a crime). The right to control means "to own". The question is about who has the right to decide who can use your body. The libertarian answer is: you have that right. That's what "self-ownership" means. There's nothing confused about it. Who has the right to control your body? You."

    I didn't even attempt to argue for this view as being justified, but just that it is not "screwy". That's why I didn't cite my article How We Come To Own Ourselves, which does attempt to justify it. In your reply, you wrote: "Stephan, here I think we have a circular argument based on wishful thinking."
    As I was not making a case for the rule's being valid--so it's not "wishful thinking"; I was responding to your comment that it it screwy; that it makes no sense to say you own your body. I've had similar problems in my own mind before with the idea of self-ownership. I've always thought there was something confused about it. Yes--a person "is" his body, in some sense that he is not the same as things he acquires/homesteads. And I've long been uncomfortable with the notion of selling oneself into slavery--not quite for the same "impossibility" reasoning that Rothbard would use against it, but other reasons.

    I've argued (see the piece above and links in it) that ownership is just a label for "right to control.". Now people assume that if you own something, you can sell it. Why? This does not immediately follow. The right to control means that if A wants to use a thing he owns in a given way, and B also does, then A wins. HOw does this imply that A can sell it, though? This seems self-evident to most libertarians; not to me. Therefore, in my A Theory of Contracts: Binding Promises, Title Transfer, and Inalienability, I tried to explain this. In the case of things you own by acquisition--formerly unowned things--you can "undo" the acquisition by abandoning the item. If you do it right, you can abandon it "into the hands of" a designated "new homesteader", i.e., you can give or sell it to someone else. That is, the right to control a thing you homesteaded means that you can also sell it. It's not b/c ownership implies right to sell; it's b/c ownership applied to such a thing does result in a right to sell.

    The body is different; we are not disembodied ghosts wandering around the planet looking for an unowned body to homestead. Rather, a given person is inextricably bound up with his body, at the least, as mind is bound up with a brain. THe argument for having ownership of one's body--right to control it--is not based on finding it as an unowned thing. Since the body "is" you in a sense, you can't "abandon" it in the same way you can abandon a homesteaded thing. Therefore, as I argued there, the right to control your body does not mean a right to sell.
    "Libertarians want to assert an untrammelled right to control their own bodies in areas like suicide and abortion. So they hunt around for a basis for such a right. "Hmm, what do we have a right to control? Things we own!" Therefore, they assert, "Everyone owns his own body.""

    Even if this cynical account were true, I'm not sure why it debunks the idea of self-ownership. It certainly does not show the concept is "screwy".

    I think the account of this is a bit different, in any event. People naturally oppose violence directed against their bodies by others. If B wants to kill A, or rape A, then A will oppose this. In a civilized society, A will want to justify his desired use of force in such cases. Those civilized people who care about justifying their arguments and their violent interactions with others will ponder this. They will conclude that as between a person A who inhabits ("directly controls") a giving body Body-A, and person B, who inhabits Body-B, then if both A and B want to use Body-A--that is, if there is a dispute between A and B over the use of A's body--then person A has a "better claim" to body-A than B does. For a variety of reasons, which I won't go into here but which I did in the first paper cited above.

    So this is what it means to conclude that A is a "self-owner": that in a dispute with others over the use of "his" body, A wins. That is all. This concept is not circular, I do not believe it is "wishful thinking", it is not "screwy," and it is not even that exotic.
    "But, when asked, "What does this mean, I own my own body?" the answer is "You have the right to control it!""

    It's not circular at all. It means that in a dispute about A's body between A and B, A wins. Why is this screwy or confusing?
    "So, it appears "self-ownership" is just a different name for the conclusion sought in the first place, and not at all a means to reach that conclusion! The concept is what we call "otiose.""

    Gene, the reason I explained it was the right to control is to break out of the dilemma caused by the common libertarian assumption that "if you own it, you can sell it." This is simply assumed. It leads to the voluntary slavery paradox. So I step back and say ownership just means right to control. In the case of homesteaded (formerly unowned) resources, you acquire the right to control, by acquiring the good. This *implies that*, due to the nature of your means of acquisition and the relationship between the owner and the owned thing, the right to control can be undone--it can be lost. Thus, there is a right to sell such things.

    But the same reasoning does not apply to our bodies. So there is no right to sell one's body. It's not an object of commerce in the same way an owned object is. I think these conclusions are all sensible and decent and civilized, and not at all confused, screwy, or circular or wishful thinking. I think your critique is hollow here b/c you are not attacking a coherent case for libertarian rights; you are attacking one confused formulation of "self-owernship." But certainly you yourself as a libertarian (or so I thought?) also endorse the self-ownership rule: that the person himself ought to be able to say who gets to use his body. No? Surely you don't favor the other rule, that the thug or third party has the right to use another's person's body? I think your assertion that nobody owns their body is ridiculous, and confused--surely you would take sides as between A and B, both fighting to control, to use, A's body--and taking sides is saying A owns it.

    Maybe an example would be a good idea. Gene, if Helena Bonham Carter wants to use your body to have sex with it, and if you do not, then who do you think has the say-so here? Wait, bad example.

    Bob, if you disagree with me on "ownership" I'd be curious to know why. Silly me, I thought we were on the same team--both Austro-libertarians. Who, pray tell, do you think does own your body, if not you?

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  29. Bob, if you disagree with me on "ownership" I'd be curious to know why. Silly me, I thought we were on the same team--both Austro-libertarians. Who, pray tell, do you think does own your body, if not you?

    C'mon Stephan, I was referring to our arguments over argumentation ethics.

    Did you also think I meant that I literally disagree with Gene 100% of the time whenever he voices an opinion on Rothbard?

    But if you want a less flippant answer, I still am not convinced about selling your body into slavery. You have given a coherent account for your position, but as a dualist (i.e. I view people's wills as distinct from their bodies) I am still open to the possibility that there is simply a practical difference between selling your dog (who still obeys your verbal commands) and selling your body (which still obeys your mental commands).

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  30. Bobberino: "C'mon Stephan, I was referring to our arguments over argumentation ethics."

    Okay. But Gene says the idea of self-ownership is absurd. I tried to point out why it's not. I don't think this has to depend on my view of argumentation ethics.

    "Did you also think I meant that I literally disagree with Gene 100% of the time whenever he voices an opinion on Rothbard?"

    No clue here.

    "But if you want a less flippant answer, I still am not convinced about selling your body into slavery."

    Bob? Uh, neither am I. If you notice, I oppose the idea of selling yourself into slavery. If that is Gene's problem with the idea of "self-ownership"--that it implis you can sell yourself into slavery--then I think he's accepting the same confused idea ss do the voluntary slavers.

    "You have given a coherent account for your position, but as a dualist (i.e. I view people's wills as distinct from their bodies) I am still open to the possibility that there is simply a practical difference between selling your dog (who still obeys your verbal commands) and selling your body (which still obeys your mental commands)."

    Bob. What are you talking about? I've argued at length for inalienability.

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  31. Bo Pot4:18 AM

    As to Stephan Kinsella's gymnastics: if at some future date we have the ability to transfer our brains from body to body and body to machine, then right-libertarians will argue that it's entirely acceptable for poor people to sell their bodies to aging rich people who prefer the genuine article.

    Since his contortions might one day have to be abandoned by right-libertarians anyway, why not drop them now and simply say that selling yourself is indeed compatible with right-libertarian theory but impossible in practice?

    I don't see the need for all his tortured attempts to remain PC.

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