Text 19 Oct 23 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #8

I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This is the eighth in a series of many.

A Libertarian Theory of Contract: Title Transfer, Binding Promises, and Inalienability by Stephan Kinsella

  • Property and Contract
  • Overview of Contract
  • Speech, Promises, and Libertarianism
  • Consideration
  • Promissory Estoppel and Detrimental Reliance
  • The Title-Transfer Theory of Contract: Evers-Rothbard Title-Transfer Theory
  • Conditional Transfers of Title
  • Enforcement of Promises
  • Clarifications and Applications; Transfer of Title to Homestead Resources, Property in the Body, Rothbard on Inalienability
  • Theft and Debtor’s Prison
  • Fraud
Conclusion:
"The title-transfer theory of contract avoids the problems of detrimental reliance and consideration-based defenses of contract. It permits gratuitous contracts without inventing arcane doctrines or burdensome formalities, and provides a conceptually elegant theory of contract that can provide damages for breach of promises to perform, similar to modern legal systems.
This view of contract also solves the problems of voluntary slavery contracts and debtors’ prison and avoids convoluted arguments for inalienability. Finally, the framework presented herein provides a justification for outlawing fraud.”
Text 2 Oct 4 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #7

I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This is the seventh in a series of many.

Property, Causality, and Liability by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

[W]e still remain in the realm of “positive” legal analysis when we consider what might be called a praxeological requirement of any system of assigning property rights. In order to make conflict-free interaction possible, every such system must take into account the fact that man does and must act. In other words, it must be an “operational” system. To accomplish this, based on the system adopted, human actors must be able to determine ex ante, at any moment in time, what they are and are not permitted to do. In order to determine this, there need be some “objective” borders, signs, and indicators of ownership and property as well as of wrongful invasion of said ownership and property. Similarly, when considering a case ex post, judges must have “objective” criteria of property and aggression to make a determination for or against a plaintiff. […]

In light of Reinach’s definitions, we return to Rothbard’s causality criterion. While his criterion is on the one hand too wide in including accidental invasions among punishable offenses, on the other hand it appears too narrow in determining liability. A few examples, taken from Reinach and slightly modified, illustrate the point. A, B’s superior, sends B into the woods, hoping that B will be struck by lightning. His hopes are fulfilled. Has A caused B’s death or injury? Should A be liable? […]

Clearly, while “objective” (external, observable) criteria must play an important role in the determination of ownership and aggression, such criteria are not sufficient. In particular, defining aggression “objectivistically” as “overt physical invasion” appears deficient because it excludes entrapment, incitement and failed attempts, for instance. Both the establishment of property rights and their violation spring from actions: acts of appropriation and expropriation.

However, in addition to a physical appearance, actions also have an internal, subjective aspect. This aspect cannot be observed by our sense organs. Instead, it must be ascertained by means of understanding (verstehen). The task of the judge cannot-by the nature of things-be reduced to a simple decision rule based on a quasi-mechanical model of causation. Judges must observe the facts and understand the actors and actions involved in order to determine fault and liability.

I would quote the entirety of this relatively short journal article if I could. At first I was rather affronted but then became convinced. This is a largely unknown work, however it is a classic that advances the libertarian edifice and our ability to accurately answer who is legitimately liable and what those standards are. 

Text 7 Jun 7 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #6

I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless  mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This is the sixth in a series of many.

Of Private, Common, and Public Property and the Rationale for Total Privatization” by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

  • Abstract: In this paper, first, I want to clarify the nature and function of private property. Second, I want to clarify the distinction between “common” goods and property and “public” goods and property, and explain the construction error inherent in the institution of public goods and property. Third, I want to explain the rationale and principle of privatization.

There is also a fourth section entitled “Privatization: Principle and Applications” which analyses 3 possible scenarios and breaks them down.

  1. Most closely approximated by the former Soviet Union, is that of a society where each and every property is public property, administered by a state government.
  2. Differs from the first one in only one respect: the legal past has not been wiped out. This was essentially the case in the Soviet Union’s former vassal states, such as East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc.
  3. Is that of the so-called mixed economies. In these societies a public sector exists side by side with a nominally private sector.

An excerpt:

“But how to privatize in the “real world,” which has developed far beyond the simple village model that I have so far considered? In this “real world” we have not just public streets, but also public parks, land, rivers, lakes, coastlines, housing, schools, universities, hospitals, barracks, airports, harbors, libraries, museums, monuments, and on and on… How is it possible that formerly unowned common streets can be privatized without thereby generating conflict with others?

The short answer is that this can be done provided only that the appropriation of the street does not infringe on the previously established rightsthe easementsof private-property owners to use such streets “for free.” Everyone must remain free to walk the street from house to house, through the woods, and onto the lake, just as before. Everyone retains a right-of-way, and hence no one can claim to be made worse off by the privatization of the street. Positively, in order to objectifyand validatehis claim that the formerly common street is now a private one and that he (and no one else) is its owner, the appropriator (whoever it may be) must perform some visible maintenance and repair work on and along the street. Then, as its owner, heand no one elsecan further develop and improve the streets as he sees fit. He sets the rules and regulations concerning the use of his street so as to avoid all street conflicts…”

Should there ever be a libertarian revolution, a period of secession and de-statization, or Ron Paul wins the highest office… this will be the guide book. As per Walter Block’s comment:

  • This is a magnificent contribution to the libertarian edifice. It tackles an immensely important problem, a complex one, and argues on the basis of plumb line libertarianism. It is also inspiring, and riveting. Congratulations to Hans, once again. All libertarians are greatly in his debt.
Text 11 May 11 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #5
I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless  mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This is the fifth in a series of many.
This excellent summary geared towards those new to philosophy elucidates what the Austrian School of economic thought actually entails in terms of its methodology, and how the status of its economic propositions differs to those of the mainstream.

True Knowledge from A Priori Theory by Thorsten Polleit

How do we know about the outer world — or reality, for that matter? Where does our knowledge about it come from? The attempt to answer these questions leads to epistemology, the branch of philosophy dealing with the origin, scope, and validity of human knowledge.

In the epistemological debate, there are two archetypal and actually diametrically opposed concepts: empiricism and rationalism. Empiricism claims that sensory experience (observation) is man’s main (or even sole) source of knowledge, while rationalism claims that his knowledge stems from human reason.

Hardly anyone would deny that there is knowledge that comes to us from sensory experience. Take, for instance, the knowledge that water freezes at zero degrees Celsius. It actually takes observation(s) to acquire such knowledge.

However, in the field of science, which formulates knowledge that applies universally, irrespective of time and place, rationalism holds that empirical knowledge gained through sensory experience doesn’t have the same validity as knowledge deduced from reasoning.

Take, for instance, the following two observations… read more.

Text 24 Mar 19 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #4

I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This is the fourth in a series of many.

Do We Ever Really Get Out of Anarchy? [voluntarism] by Alfred G. Cuzan

  • “A major point of dispute among libertarian theorists and thinkers today as always revolves around the age-old question of whether man can live in total anarchy or whether the minimal state is absolutely necessary for the maximization of freedom. Lost in this dispute is the question of whether man is capable of getting out of anarchy at all. Can we really abolish anarchy and set up a Government in its place? Most people, regardless of their ideological preferences, simply assume that the abolition of anarchy is possible, that they live under Government and that anarchy would be nothing but chaos and violence.  The purpose of this paper is to question this venerated assumption and to argue that the escape from anarchy is impossible, that we always live in anarchy, and that the real question is what kind of anarchy we live under, market anarchy or non-market (political) anarchy.”
  • “Government is an agent external to society, a “third party” with the power to coerce all other parties to relations in society into accepting its conceptions of those relations. … However, that the idea of Government exists is no proof of its empirical existence. … That societies may have some form of organization they call the “government” is no reason to conclude that those “governments” are empirical manifestations of the idea of Government. … A closer look at these earthly “governments” reveals that they do not get us out of anarchy at all. They simply replace one form of anarchy by another and hence do not give us real Government. Let’s see how this is so…”
Link 20 Mar 10 notes Marxism - A materials list»

In 1989 Robert Heilbroner, a distinguished quasi-marxist economist famously wrote in The New Yorker:

Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won… Capitalism organizes the material affairs of humankind more satisfactorily than socialism.

In a sense, to their lament, the marxists are not at all relevant. Here Rothbard prophetically addresses the confused intellectuals about what would be the next statist threat: “The coming struggle will be over interventionism, some kind of statism quasi-fascism… but the full socialism has had it.”

In 1992, Robert Heilbroner continued to explain the facts of life:

Capitalism has been as unmistakable a success as socialism has been a failure. Here is the part that’s hard to swallow. It has been the Friedmans, Hayeks, and von Miseses who have maintained that capitalism would flourish and that socialism would develop incurable ailments. All three have regarded capitalism as the ‘natural’ system of free men; all have maintained that left to its own devices capitalism would achieve material growth more successfully than any other system. From [my samplings] I draw the following discomforting generalization: The farther to the right one looks, the more prescient has been the historical foresight; the farther to the left, the less so.

And so it is with that I would like to introduce the following reading list for those who have asked several questions about Marxism and what it actually entails, since unfortunately they continue to stick around.

Readings:

Lectures:

Text 27 Feb 12 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #3

I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless  mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This is the third in a series of many.

"Causation and Aggression"    by Stephan Kinsella and Patrick Tinsley

Sections:

  1. Praxeology and Legal Analysis: Action vs. Behavior
  2. Aggression and the Implicit Concept of Causality
  3. Complicating the Picture: Causation, Cooperation, And Human Means
  4. “Mere” Speech-Acts And Aggression
  5. Cause-In-Fact, Proximate Cause, And Action
  6. Reinach and Causation

In the context of legal analysis, one important praxeological doctrine is the distinction between action and mere behavior. The difference between action and behavior boils down to intent. Action is an individual’s intentional intervention in the physical world, via certain selected means, with the purpose of attaining a state of affairs that is preferable to the conditions that would prevail in the absence of the action. Mere behavior, by contrast, is a person’s physical  movements that are not undertaken intentionally and that do not manifest any purpose, plan, or design. Mere behavior cannot be aggression; aggression must be deliberate, it must be an action.

Here Stephan Kinsella clears up and clarifies some advanced aspects of libertarianism. Some questions to investigate:

  • Why we should concern ourselves with A’s intent? If we objectively determine that A’s actions caused the death of B, what should it matter what A intended to do—or whether A intended to do anything at all?
  • Consider the following case in which an aggressor employs an innocent human as one of his means. A terrorist builds a letter-bomb and mails it to his intended victim via courier. The courier has no idea that the package he is delivering contains a lethal device. When the addressee dies in an explosion after he opens the package, whom should we hold responsible?
  • What about the defense that speech cannot be aggression since it does not actually invade others’ property borders?
  • The same question is asked in a variety of situations: did the general kill people, using his troops as means to this end? Did the manager use his employee as a means to attain some end? Did the wife kill her husband by using her lover (or a hired hit-man) as the means to attain this goal? If some one votes in favor of socialism (or speaks out in favor of it), are they a cause of the ensuing acts of aggression by state agents?
Text 17 Feb 4 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read? #2

I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless  mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This is part two of the series.

“The Role of Subscription-Based Patrol and Restitution in the Future of Liberty”    by Gil Guillory & Patrick C. Tinsley

Market anarchists are often keen to know how we might rid ourselves of the twin evils institutionalized in the state: taxation and monopoly. A possible future history for North America is suggested, focusing upon the implications of the establishment of a subscription-based patrol and restitution business sector. We favor Rothbard over Higgs regarding crises and liberty. We favor Barnett over Rothbard regarding vertical integration of security. We examine derived demand for adjudication, mediation and related goods; and we advance the thesis that private adjudication will tend to libertarianly just decisions. We show how firms will actively build civil society, strengthening and coordinating Nisbettian intermediating institutions.

The present paper explores the possible historical consequences of the successful establishment of a subscription patrol and restitution business sector. In support of the story we posit, we first address a number of topics to set the tone and clear up misconceptions about what is meant by free market provision of defense and law.

An outline follows:

  1. Entrepreneur as Agent of Social Change
  2. The Law Enforcement Paradigm and Vertical Integration
  3. Search and Arrest
  4. Does Free-Market Adjudication Provide Justice?
  5. Development of the SPR Model—Social Strength and Derived Demand
  6. Crisis and Liberty

In a sense, it is essentially a business plan for liberty. Normal customers (people not specifically interested in philosophy & non radicals) paying to read about voluntarism, surely not?!

Text 29 Jan 10 notes For the aspiring Austro-Libertarian: What to read?

I thought I would recommend some of the not so well known but nevertheless  mind-blowing journal articles that should be read by everyone in the movement, especially by those outside it. This will be the first in a series of many.

If you’re just starting out it is probably best to study the classics and introductory books. However, understanding the framework of knowledge, praxeology — the science of human action and where the two important fields of economics and jurisprudence (political philosophy) reside is very helpful. This is the most cutting edge article out there that exists today. 

“Action-Based Jurisprudence: Praxeological Legal Theory in Relation to Economic Theory, Ethics, and Legal Practice”    by Konrad Graf

Action-based legal theory is a discrete branch of praxeology and the basis of an emerging school of jurisprudence related to, but distinct from, natural law. Legal theory and economic theory share content that is part of praxeology itself: the action axiom, the a priori of argumentation, universalizable property theory, and counterfactual-deductive methodology. Praxeological property-norm justification is separate from the strictly ethical “ought” question of selecting ends in an action context. Examples of action-based jurisprudence are found in existing “Austro-libertarian” literature. Legal theory and legal practice must remain distinct and work closely together if justice is to be found in real cases. Legal theorizing was shaped in religious ethical contexts, which contributed to confused field boundaries between law and ethics. The carrot and stick influence of rulers on theorists has distorted conventional economics and jurisprudence in particular directions over the course of centuries. An action-based approach is relatively immune to such sources of distortion in its methods and conclusions, but has tended historically to be marginalized from conventional institutions for this same reason.

I don’t think the above will be bested in a very long time. It is a big read for a journal article, but do not let that put you off. It is well worth it. If you’re not a fan of reading online, I would suggest printing it out - which can be done very easily for around $5. It’s something you will come back to often. A one stop shop for understanding Austro-Libertarianism in one read.

(Source: blog.mises.org)


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