X-Message-Number: 16029
Subject: Re: Trust In All-Powerful Lords
Date: Sun,  8 Apr 2001 22:46:51 -0700 (PDT)
From:  (Peter C. McCluskey)

  (Lee Corbin) writes:
>> The right to private property and right not to be
>> enslaved both appear to have evolved primarily as
>> means of improving relations between beings of
>> roughly the same status...
>Yes.  But notice that if we replaced the word right
>by "legal right" your sentence wouldn't lose any meaning.

 It would lose meaning. One simple example of a property right
that is outside the legal system is a surfer's ownership of the
wave that he is riding.
 A less clear example where your position has implications that
make me uncomfortable would be the right of a slave travelling
through Massachusetts in 1859 to escape from his owner.

>Try an experiment yourself:  shout out at the top of
>your lungs "I HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO X!" and "I SHOULD
>HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO DO X!"  Notice how the first
>form leads to grandstanding and demagogery, and how
>the latter sounds so much less compelling.  People who
>shout out the first one are trying to make it sound
>like "I have the legal right to do X" when in fact 
>that assertion would be false.

 I believe that statements like "I have a right to life, liberty, and
property" express an important truth that would not become false
if they ceased to be legal rights.
 I see an important difference between "have" and "should have". I
object to "I have a right" claims unless they reflect a Schelling
point that has been established by a clear consensus or legislation,
or are backed up by an argument for social benefits that meets a strong
burden of proof.
 I believe the demagoguery that bothers you is a substantive fraud
(usually a false claim that a firm Schelling point has been established)
that cannot be cured by simple semantic changes.

>Could be, (where I read "optimum rule" to mean "rule that
>Peter and Lee would eventually prefer morally" or perhaps
>"rule that would be advocated by entities having a superb
>understanding of economics", or "rule that would give the
>greatest number the greatest happiness").  Perhaps our
>friends at the Singularity Institute are working precisely
>on these questions, read olive branch.
>So what do you mean, "optimum rule"?

 The greatest happiness for the greatest number is a good enough
approximation this context.
Peter McCluskey          | Fed up with democracy's problems? Examine Futarchy:
http://www.rahul.net/pcm | http://hanson.gmu.edu/futarchy.pdf or .ps

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