This is an excerpt from Action-Based Jurisprudence: Praxeological Legal Theory in Relation to Economic Theory, Ethics, and Legal Practice by Konrad Graf, pg 44. Understanding this helps comprehend the structure of reality and its categories. Certain fields of knowledge fall within certain sectors.
Note on “objective, intersubjectively ascertainable”
The term “intersubjectively ascertainable” mentioned in Hoppe’s work and also employed by Kinsella, might appear synonymous with “objective,” with which it is often paired. However, these terms carry an important, but subtle distinction. It is helpful here to refer to Wilber’s four-quadrant model (2006, 18–26), which I will now briefly describe, relate to Misesian concepts, and apply to this distinction.
In this model, an interior–exterior axis crosses with an individual–plural axis to create four quadrants of possible perspectives. These are the interior-individual (subjective), interior-plural (cultural), exterior-individual (objective), and exterior-plural (social/natural-science/systems). Various fields of knowledge are most at home in particular quadrants, while each quadrant is associated with distinctive forms of knowledge. In this view, human beings, for example, stand as both wholes and parts (“holons”)—both individuals and components of plurals—with both exterior and interior aspects. These aspects are both discrete and inseparable—all of them must be present for us to be the kind of beings that we are.
The two axes of this four-quadrant model may, in my view, be translated into Misesian terms as follows. The dual perspectives provided by the interior–exterior axis correspond to Mises’s causal/teleological dualism (1998, 17–18). Wilber argues that neither the interior nor the exterior perspective is even conceivable without the existence of its opposite, which takes some of the mystery out of dualism. As I understand Wilber’s claim, any combination of perspectives on this axis that was not an interior-exterior dualism would be impossible in the same sense that a hollow sphere with an outside but no inside would be impossible.
It is similar along Wilber’s individual–plural axis. No plurals can exist without individuals comprising them. This axis is also reflected in Mises’s work, but in his methodological individualism. Mises examines emergent system-level phenomena (pricing, market interest), while recognizing that there can be no system without its components and that those components do not lose their properties as individuals merely by being viewed in terms of their roles in a given systemic phenomenon. While Mises thus covers both of Wilber’s two axes in different places, it is Wilber’s contribution to cross them to form a single, unified model.
We are now better positioned to unpack the phase, “objective, intersubjectively ascertainable.” “Objective” refers to exterior-realm empirically measurable data. “Intersubjectively ascertainable,” however, refers to interior-realm data that can be ascertained by multiple persons, but not measured directly.
The interior realm includes concepts such as action and its many derivative concepts such as aggression. Such phenomena are only ascertainable from an interior perspective, the perspective of an actor (“subjective”), and can be ascertained within the subjectivity of multiple persons (“inter-”). Anyone who actually looks/thinks/ascertains could compare notes and agree that they were perceiving the same interior-realm phenomenon. They might also disagree, as the case may be. One person might claim that, “He meant to do it.” Another that, “It was an accident.” However, it is in principle possible that they could agree on such a thing in a given case (“-able”). To put these pieces back together, “intersubjectively ascertainable” points particularly to an interior-realm phenomenon such as an action that it is possible for multiple persons to grasp or understand in the same way.
But is “objective” then redundant with this? This is a subtle point because we ascertain interior-realm phenomena through exterior-realm observables or patterns. For example, we understand that a man acted (interior) in that he started punching his argumentation partner, but we know this most definitively because we see fists flying (exterior). These are therefore each aspects of the same phenomenon viewed from two different quadrant perspectives. They are both present at the same time and not reducible to one another.
The implication for legal theory is that “objective” (physical, measurable, empirical) indications of subjective phenomena must be present to a sufficient degree in order for them to be “intersubjectively ascertainable.” This is why the phrase, “objective, intersubjectively ascertainable,” is not merely a repetition of synonyms. It specifies both the thing stated and one of its prerequisites.
By contrast, purely subjective interior-individual phenomena can lack intersubjective ascertainability because they lack observable corollaries. I might just “think” something sitting in my chair, but no one could reliably guess what it was that I had thought. This is because there is insufficient objective (exterior) evidence for anyone to ascertain what I was thinking (interior).
A certain practical degree of objective indicators of subjective phenomena must therefore be present to render them intersubjectively ascertainable. This is important in considering property rights in general, and is essential in considering first-appropriation claims in particular. This “objective” component correlates with the concept of “evidence” in the law. “Evidence” comprises objective, exterior indications of criminal or other actions, which are only understandable by other actors in the interior realm.