Author Topic: Having enough information to initiate force, if justifiable at all  (Read 1226 times)

AdeptusHereticus

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Hi guys !

Since I have registered on the forum, I have begun to enquire more about intellectual property, which have been one of a few difficult questions for me to solve, and for quite some time. I have found a topic, opened by Travis on that subject with a few ressources. Among them was a video from Stephan Molyneux's channel where he was invited on a show named "on the edge" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKyutB3u2bM

So I was watching, and at some point they talk about the so called "satanic mills". 19th century, apple farmers suffers adversary effects from the smoke of the nearby industry. The point is simple : If you own yourself, you are responsible for the consequences of your actions. In the example of 19th century england, the actions that generates the thick smoke are undertook by people. Those people are responsible of the cost of the consequences of this undertaking. (The story doesn't end well for the farmers but that's beside the point)

Now, I think the real issue contains a huge grey area because I only am responsible, in the sense that I can be assigned the blame, if some people around me feel the consequences of my actions to such an extent that they feel that the cost of it is too high. In the "satanic mills" story, were the smoke less thick and in smaller volume, people could have fail to notice it, and would not have cared for it. The smoke would still be on the apples.

Jumping to the next part : ecological ressources : people who make a living off the ecological ressources take actions that might have adversary effect for others. As an example, people who fish for a living are presented with a dilemma today : They are told that, in some cases, their actions will be detrimental to people in the futur, and that their undertaking needs reforming if we want to keep the ressources available for everyone.
Depending on the level of information we have, the consequences could appaear as 1) a microscopic coating of smoke not worth noticing or 2) a black goo impossible or difficult to clean or 3) something worth watching just in case. (Obviously i'm simplifying a continuum)

The ecological ressources cannot be managed by everyone. Someone will have to take care of it, wether it is the fishermen themselve, or someone mandated by the state, at some point, someone will be in charge, arbitrarily or, as a consequence of one's actions. If people want to sustain their own living, they have to think about these issues and decide if it's worth taking actions. But it's seems to me that they also have to decide if it's worth and justifiable initiating force over.
The fish that is caught is fishermen property as a consequence of their own actions, but if their actions become detrimental to other people, then the fishermen are responsible for those consequences on others and at this point, it seems logical that the state would be implicated, which means that the state would be justifiable in initiating force on fishermen who refuse to catch less of a specific fish which population is dwindling.

In that case, things look simple but on two points :
1) Isn't that claiming property right on the entire fish population for an entire human population, which sounds like a grey area which can only be arbitrated arbitrarily.
2) How much information is needed and how do we decide if we have enough information ?

If I don't know that my neighbours apples are coated with smoke from my industry, and if nobody is telling me, I can't be liable because we can't act without knowledge. But this kind of knowledge is a continuum. If with time passing, my industry generate more and more smoke, it will slowly become visible on the apples and there will be a tipping point where my neighbour will ask me to take responsability. But the fact is, I was damaging his property all along, it all depends on how much knowledge we have about this particular problem, which, in this case, is measured in "visibility of smoke on apple".

The problem with knowledge is that it's not always evident for the eye. In the case of animal population it relies on complicated past observations and statistical models. The fishermen could easily be fooled by their own experience and be in the wrong when disagreeing with the models. We can't always just look at the apples.

I know that one answer to point 1) above could be that property is a consequence of human action, and that there is no human action that can result in the property of an entire population of fish, present and future (or at least I don't see how it can). But it seems to me that the natural rights we assign to humans don't make a lot of sense if those humans can't enjoy earth ressources. In the natural rights framework, we have as much right as anyone else to take advantage of those ressources. If ressources become scarce and eventually disappear because of the actions of someone else, isn't the state justified in initiating force to prevent that ? And if so, don't the epistemological considerations about certainty and knowledge get in the way of resolving the issue with simple libertarian philosophy ?

Let me know how you resolve this issue.

MrBogosity

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Re: Having enough information to initiate force, if justifiable at all
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2015, 08:17:14 AM »
In a free market, when resources become scarce their price goes up and fewer people consume them. That's how the price mechanism deals with things like endangered species. That's why the elephant populations are making a comeback in African countries that allow private ownership of elephants, including the right to issue hunting permits, while they continue to decline elsewhere in Africa where they're owned by everyone/no one/the government (ends up being the same thing). What you're talking about is the Tragedy of the Commons, and we've had the answer to that for centuries, and it's the very property rights you began talking about!

AdeptusHereticus

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Re: Having enough information to initiate force, if justifiable at all
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2015, 11:44:37 AM »
Is it the tragedy of the commons ? That's not how I understand what I read about it ... In this scenario, the users know that the ressource is being depleted, possibly beyond repair or usefullness, right ?

Does it still apply if there is no mean of making predictions about the ressource for the users ?

MrBogosity

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Re: Having enough information to initiate force, if justifiable at all
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2015, 01:31:54 PM »
In this scenario, the users know that the ressource is being depleted, possibly beyond repair or usefullness, right ?

Yes, as they did in the original Tragedy.

Quote
Does it still apply if there is no mean of making predictions about the ressource for the users ?

Yep.