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  1. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Paul's Here Said: Again, you are missing the main point that has been made in this thread: that rights are actions of use and disposal of things, not to things themselves. Rights of ownership and property pertain to the same thing: the right to use and dispose of something. Whether it be books, houses, patents, copyrights, water, rivers, lakes, ground, trees, etc. Man-made or predating man's existence, the right of use and disposal of the things is guided by the same principle. == Hello Paul. I claim I am not missing the point. Rand never said that ownership rights do not apply to objects, in fact she said the opposite in her discussion of copyright laws. The copyright symbol @ is not a floating abstract concept unrelated to use of a material good produced, it is an objective language object with identity that is attached to another objective object produced by a human mind. The @ symbol is a symbol of ownership of the object that only the producer, as owner, can legally hold. Ownership of an object is not a floating abstraction separated some a thing that exists. However, ownership of an object is a different concept than a property right to make use of an object. Rand also explained that the act of placement of the @ ownership symbol on an object is an act of volition, an act restricted to the producer of the object, e.g., the producer may or may not decide to place a symbol of ownership on an object they produced. It is the producer that sets the terms how the object may or may not be used by others. In situations where an owner decides not to place the @ symbol on what they produce, the result of that action is that the owner can make no future claim to ownership and during a trade both an ownership right and a property right "to use" of the object is transfered to another person. However, if the producer decides to place a @ symbol on the object they own, the producer maintains ownership right of the object itself and only transferrs property right to use the object. Thus, while it correct to say that during such a trade the property right is not a right to own an object, this does not mean that ownership rights can NEVER exist for an object, they can, such rights exist for the initial producer of the object and that right is legally protected via laws and rules by the Objective symbol, @, but, iff, the producer decides to exercise such ownership right by the act of placing the @ symbol on the object. == Now, let us discuss the abstract, how do we place a @ symbol on a natural resource such as a flowing river ? Who is the producer, the only entity with a right to place such a symbol ? The only rational answer is nature, nature produced the river, thus only nature can claim ownership of that which it produced. Thus it is nature that directly holds the @ ownership proxi on natural resources, not humans, the same way the Estate of Ayn Rand holds a @ ownership proxi on all the books written by Rand. Now, Rand specifically stated that in a proper Objectivist society there exists a proper role of citizens to grant what she termed "custodial rights" specifically to natural resource, to the government. Thus Rand said that citizens can delegate rights to government if they so wish to delegate (see the quote above in my reply to Betsy). Custodian rights to natural resources delegated by citizens to the government allow the government to define objective and rational uses of those resources for all citizens in the nation in such a way that protects the property right uses of all individuals...this is what Rand said, not me. So, what are the proper uses of natural resources that Rand allows governments to define and protect via laws and rules as custodians ? Rand never discussed these details, that is the pupose and motivation why I began this thread topic. .
  2. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Betsy, I respect your opinion, but here you are doing what you claim I am doing, not presenting an accurate account of what Rand did and did not say. Rand specifically said that the source of government authority is the conscent of the governed, see here from AR Lexicon: === Quote of Ayn Rand: The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.” This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose. “The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 110 === Your opinion that when Rand said the government can act as a custodian only in relation to an individual contract is not proper within the context of the statement she made about the right of government to act as custodian of natural resources. She was talking about the Hometead Act and asking the question.... should the government own the land given to individuals via the act, and she said that in a proper Objectivist society that land would have been granted by the citizens of the nation to the government to act as a custodian, with power to define Objective rules and laws how the people could make use of the land. === To answer your question, I claim to love Rand because I love my life. I just do not see how anyone on this forum needs to inform me why or why not my thinking on this issue is true or false. Could we please stay on topic....I wait for a reply to my question that I modified based on comments received.....is this a proper role of government, what is the argument from Objectivist philosophy ? 1. The government in the context of environmental issues has a right to property ownership if such right is delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose, a delegation process specifically allowed by Rand..
  3. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Betsy, my goal here is not to upset anyone but to express my opinion of my understanding of what I have read that Rand wrote. The topic of this thread is what would be a proper environmental ethics in a proper Objectivist society. Concerning what I find attractive related to this topic, please let me know if you agree with the following: 1. The government in the context of environmental issues has a right to property ownership if such right is delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.
  4. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    It is not an assumption, Rand made it clear that the People hold such a right to delegate via a Constituional document. In her essay on government in the 'Virtue of Selfishness', Rand explains how the People can come to own a natural resource such as a river, which differs in principle how they come to own a material good. A material good is man-made, a river is not. Since no individual can claim direct ownership of a natural resource, how do they get to claim indirect ownership in an Objectivist society ? Rand explained the process this way (1) the source of government authority is the consent of the governed..it means the government only has 'rights' delegated to it by the citizens (the People) for a specific purpose, (2) the People grant the government a right to act as a custodian of ownerless resources, (3) for such resources the government has a right to define objectively impartial rules by which potential owners (the People) may acquire ownership (4) potential owners of natural resources are not limited to individuals but also include associations, non profit organizations, etc. plus the government itself (5) as legal custodians of natural resources the government has a right to create rules that allow the government to own natural resources with the specific purpose to protect individual property rights of the People. Thus are the logical steps by which the People come to own natural resources, via objectively impartial rules defined by the government and codified into laws and rules for all to understand and follow. When Rand claimed that governments cannot have ownership rights she was referring to material goods they do not create, she was not referring to natural resources where Rand spcifical said that the People must grant the government custodian rights to define proper ways for potential owners to become actual owners. Rand makes it clear that the government itself can become such an owner of an unowned natural resource, under the very limited specific purpose to protect property rights of all the People that use the resource.
  5. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    OK, I am not making myself clear. What I am saying is that ownership of a material good begins with the producer and stays with the producer until such time that the producer legally transfers 'ownership' rights to another. However, if the producer decides not to transfer ownership, under an Objectivist ethics, they have a right as the producer not to transfer ownership, yet at the same time transfer a property right for others to make use of the material good with restrictions such as copyright laws. This is how Rand expressed this concept: "You cannot obtain the products of a mind except on the owner’s terms, by trade and by volitional consent." (Ayn Rand) If with this comment Rand does not allow a producer to transfer only a property right on their terms via a trade yet maintain ownership rights, where does the government get the right in an Objectivist society that constrains the rights of the producer in this way ? If anyone thinks they have rational ownership plus property rights to any book they purchased that was written by Ayn Rand, then make copies of the book and begin to sell them for a profit. I predict that the Estate of Ayn Rand will inform you that while you do have a rational property right to use the book as you wish, you do not legally have an ownership right to do the same. If this is not the legal basis of their argument, what is it in Objectivist terms ? What I am trying to say is that a proper understanding of Objectivist ethics recognizes that the terms ownership rights and property rights ARE NOT THE SAME CONCEPT. They are two separate concepts given the different meanings of the two words ownership and property. I do not see how this understanding in any way contradicts Objectivist philosophy.
  6. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Yes, that is what I am saying. Let me ask, if Rand did "ever say that", would you agree with her, that is, would such a claim made by Rand be consistent with a rational Objectivist philosophy ?
  7. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    In an Objectivist society, metaphysical objects that are not created as a product of a human mind, such as the Mississippi River, are not owned by any individual human, this is a metaphysical fact of reality. But, very important, this does mean that such objects to not have potential to be owned by some entity iff such ownership right is delegated to some entity by the People. In an Objectivist society the only entity that the People can grant ownership rights to metaphysical natural resource objects such as the Mississippi River is the government because this is the only legal entity with the power to pass laws and rules (and to enforce those rules) to ensure that the manner in which the object is used by any individual does not violate the rights of use by all individuals that make use of the object. If I own a home I built in an Objectivist society and receive my drinking water from the Mississippi River I have a property right to the water that I use and dispose of, but of course I cannot make a claim of ownership of the Mississippi River itself. All the People that use the Mississippi River water can delegate a right to some entity to determine how the Mississippi River water can be rationally used by all users, and this entity can only be the government. Rand was clear that governments have a proper role to protect the rights of all individuals, and thus the right to determine rational uses of natural resources, but only if the People delegate such rights to the government via a Constitutional type legal document. The short answer to your question is....via legal delegation by the People of such right.
  8. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    OK, here is Rand statement that I understand to mean that ownership of an product does not transfer during a trade, one can only obtain the products of a mind via trade (e.g., the object produced), and only on the owners terms. Her comment agrees with the definition of ownership by Piekoff that only the owner of a product of the mind can determine future uses, as I modified after comments to mean all future rational and legal uses. == Ayn Rand quote, For the New Intellectual, 182: "You cannot obtain the products of a mind except on the owner’s terms, by trade and by volitional consent." (Ayn Rand) == Thus what you obtain from the Objectivist owner as a trade or gift is a property right to use the product produced, and on the owners terms and only by the owner. But it is not logical to think you also obtain ownership given that ownership is not a product of the mind, but a legal concept. Ownership as a legal concept stays with the producer of the product, only the product of the mind as an object that exists is transferred during a trade or gift giving. Well, most likely you will not agree, and you can have the last word. At this time I cannot add any more citations to support my argument , so I will need to move on to other topics concerning a proper Objectivist environmental ethics. Thank you for your dialog and very helpful replies concerning ownership rights and property rights.
  9. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    To your first point, a right to determine use of a material good for all possible uses within context of an Objectivist philosophy is always constrained by reason, and Rand has made it clear that a right to life trumps all other rights. So, I would agree that my statement is clarified with the words "under all possible rational uses". To your second point, in an Objectivist society, the gun shop owner does not own the gun unless they produced the gun, neither do they own the building unless they spent their own capital to build the structure. Logically, someone produced both gun and building and thus ownership rights to determine the use of both lies solely with them. If factually the gun shop owner did not produce the gun they only hold a property right to sell the gun they purchased in a legal manner. Your example of a trade where ownership is recognized within the context of the condition of sale would not apply in an Objectivist society. Again, under the Objectivist philosophy, ownership is only within the context of the individual that produced the material goods (which of course can mean a legal company or similar entity as well as an individual). Ownership rights do not transfer after a trade in a proper Objectivist society, what transfers is a property right to use the object in a legal manner in such a way that does not violate the rights of others. Please see my comment above to Betsy on the Objectivist definition of ownership provided by L. Piekoff and how it relates to the concept of use determination for materal goods.
  10. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Betsy. Please see p. 18 of Ominous Parallels by L. Piekoff. Concerning his understanding of 'ownership' for the Objectivist, he said this: If “ownership” means the right to determine the use and disposal of material goods, ....[L. Piekoff] Now, Piekoff used this definition to make a point for a specific argument concerning Nazis thinking about material goods, but the definition can be applied to ownership of metaphysical resources such as a flowing stream or river with multiple individuals having property rights to use the resource. Note that ownership for the Objectivist means the right to determine the use because only the owner produced the material good, and as I mentioned, no such logical conclusion exists for a metaphysical resource...no one produced the Mississippi River, nature produced the river. Thus as Objectivists we argue following Piekoff, that if ownership means the right to determine the use and disposal of man-made material goods produced by an individual, then ownership also means the right of individuals to delegate to government a rationally legal method to determine the use and disposal of metaphysical resources (such as rivers) produced by nature, in such a way that the property rights of all individuals to use the resource is not violated by physical force. Thus the role of government as owner of the resource in this limited context is proper because government would never initiate the use of force, but enforce laws against those individuals that would attempt to make use of something they do not own that would violate others property rights to use the resource. In a proper Objectivist society those individuals working for the government also would be Objectivists, thus they would use reason and rational thinking to determine the limited proper laws and rules necessary to protect the property rights of all that wish to make use of the resource, given the fact that none of them can claim ownership, only property rights. Details of how property rights held by individuals for use of metaphysical resources where ownership of the resource was delegated to the government by the citizens of the nation would need to be developed rationally, in the same way that Rand held that governments must pass laws as a function of their proper role in an Objectivist society.
  11. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    My reading of Rand is that she associated the concept of determination of use only to the concept ownership, and not to the concept property rights. Thus, my reading of Rand is that only an owner of a material good has ultimate right to determine how that good is used under all possible uses. Let us put aside what current legal thinking on the subject is since we do not live in an Objectivist society, but instead let us take Rand at her word and only apply the concept of use determination to ownership and not to property rights (I understand you do not agree with me, all I ask is that you follow my argument). Under the above logic, you do not own the book you purchased written by Ayn Rand because you lack the legal right to determine all possible uses of the book she wrote. However, you do have a property right to the book copy you purchased, which gives you many rights to how the copy you own can be used...all rights except the right to determine all possible uses. Thus I claim that under a proper Objectivist ethic, no individual owns any object (metaphysical or man-made) where they do not hold the ability to determine all future possible uses of that object, including any copies made of that object. Lacking such determination of use, at best an individual can claim a property right to use of the object, but never ownership. How does one get ownership ? By being the sole producer of the object in question. To say you own something is to say you produced or invented the thing, that the existence of the thing required your productive effort. I then apply this claim to the topic of environmental ethics to argue that no individual can claim onwership of any natural resource such as a flowing stream or river, at best they can claim a property right if they live adjacent to the stream. Who rationally makes a claim to have created the Mississippi River ? Owning property along the river does not mean you created the river...rationally, nature created the river. Given that no individual can claim ownership of the river created by nature, neither can they make a legal claim to determine how the river should be used under all situations. Thus, rational indivduals living in an Objectivist society would know (that is they would grasp the facts of reality) that the only way to protect their property rights to use the river is for ownership to be delegated to the government as a proper role of government to protect the joint property rights of all. I claim this is a rational conclusion of a proper Objectivist environmental ethics because Rand viewed ownership of a thing and property rights of a thing to be two distinct concepts. Please do not equate anything above as being some kind of collectivist argument, it is not, it represents what Rand called the proper way for individuals to delegate rights to groups. Suppose you dig a ditch on your property in such a way that water flows from one natural stream to another. Let us apply the above argument. Because you created the resource you own the resource and thus you have the right to dertermine all possible uses of the resource. You also have a property right to the ditch, but, iff, you own property that is adjacent to the ditch. Now, I understand that others may not agree with my argument. But, if you do not agree then you must explain why Rand only associated the concept "to determine use" with the concept ownership and never with the concept property rights. My argument is easy to defeat with a single quote by Rand where is states that having property rights means the ability to determine how that property is used under all situations. Until such a quote is found I claim that my interpretation is valid...that is, Rand would say that no one owns any copy of any book she wrote that was put under copyright protection. Rand would say that no individual, or group of individuals, owns the flowing water of the Mississippi River. At best we all have property rights to her books and the river not ownership.
  12. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    I would argue that if it may make sense for the 10's millions of rational people that live along the Mississippi River to form a legal partnership to protect their joint property rights to make use of the river, and maintenance, it is more reasonable to think that in an Objectivist society, they would grant the government these responsibilities, that this would be viewed by rational indiiduals to be a proper role of government to protect the legal property rights of all. Rand did not view the proper role of government to be any kind of control in the name of collective ownership by the people. What is proper for Rand is for individuals to delegate rights to governments, to corporations, to partnerships, etc. Rand never claimed that it would not be a proper role of government to own natural resources, such as a flowing stream or river, if such a role was delegated by the objective thinking individuals of the society.
  13. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Thanks to all for the comments. As stated below by Betsy in another thread topic under Government Ownership: "A partnership, a corporation, a charity, a homeowners' association, a political party, a club, or a government can own property as an association." (quote by Betsy in the thread Government Ownership) I agree with this and thus do not agree with the comments made above that governments cannot 'own' anything in a proper Objectivist society. Take the most simple example cited above, a legal partnership of two individuals. The legal ownership of the partnership is not a collectivist plot of two, when the partnership owns material goods, both own; when a club of 50 owns a building, everyone that makes use of the building owns the building; and when rational individuals as a nation grant government the ownership of a natural resource derived via metaphysical fact, everyone that is a citizen of that nation, and makes use of the resource, owns the resource via a private property right. It is not a tenent of the Objectivist philosophy of Rand that governments cannot be granted ownership of natural resources (such as flowing streams and rivers) by rational individuals who have joint potential for use of that natural resource. It is the property right of individuals to delegate governments ownership rights if they believe that such ownership is a proper role of government to protect the individual rights of all who jointly use the natural resource. The rights of ownership derive from the governed, not the government. One cannot argue that such a system of government ownership would be a collectivist plot in a proper Objectivist society because the concept collectivist would not exist. Take for example a logging company using a river to transport logs downstream as a way to maximize profits rather than move the logs via trucks or rail. In a proper Objectivist society this activity would never be allowed for the reason that the company does not have a property right ownership to the river. A logging company does not own any land adjacent to rivers. They are hired by property owners to cut trees. The act of putting logs into the river either by the logging company, or the property owner where the trees are cut, is an act of force against downstream property owners who may not want logs hitting into their fishing boats, killing their children who swim in the river, etc. It is the proper role of government to take legal action against anyone that uses force to deprive others their right to life, their right to use of private property. Thus it would be the proper role of government in an Objectivist society to pass laws that prohibit logging companies from placing logs into rivers, not because Objectivists are against the activity of logging, but because they place higher value on the property rights of those living along the river. == Please keep in mind, my goal for this thread is to develop a proper Objectivist Environmental Ethic, not discuss the failed attempts of the Democrat, Republican, Tea, and Libertarian parties to develop this ethic.
  14. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Thanks for your reply. I think the concepts ownership and property rights in the Objectivist philosophy are not exactly the same thing, here is my argument: Although ownership means having a property right, the reverse is not always true, that is, having a property right does not always mean ownership. So, using the example that you purchase a copy of a book written by Rand, as you said, you do not have legal permission to use the book in all possible ways that a book could be used, e.g., you cannot make a copy of the book you purchased. Why not ? Because Ayn Rand (and now her Estate) owns the copy of the book you purchased via a copyright contract that you agreed to when you purchased the book. Before you spent money to purchase the book it was clearly written near the front cover that your property rights of how you can use the book are constrained, you cannot make a copy without permission of the owner. But a book is not an apple. Suppose a farmer sold you an apple he produced. In contrast to Rand and her book, the farmer does not make a claim of ownership of the apple, you can make copies of it by taking the seeds and try to grow them. Thus, while you can claim both ownership and property right to the apple you purchased from the farmer, you can never claim both ownership and property rights for the purchase of a copy of a book written by Ayn Rand...the reason being that you cannot make a copy of what Ayn Rand owns. Thus, while it is true that under some situations ownership and property rights mean the same thing, they do not mean the same thing under all situations. I argue that the concept that makes ownership and property rights NOT exactly the same under all circumstances is "determination of use".
  15. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Thanks Betsy for the reply, I greatly appreciate your interest. So, from the above exchange it seems clear that a proper Objectivist environmental ethic needs to clearly define (1) property rights and (2) ownership of property. From the above quote of Rand and your example of purchasing a book written by Rand, a property right is not an exclusive right of ownership of an object or a material object. Thus you can legally burn the book you purchased but you cannot copy it. Ownership of the book, that is, who determines ultimate how the book is used and disposed, lies with the Ayn Rand Institute. Only Ayn Rand has both exclusive property rights and ownership rights to the book she wrote, the final product of her mind. Back to the OP topic, a flowing stream or river cannot be owned by any individual because by definiton it is a metaphysical object and not a man-made object. According to Rand, the concept of ownership only applies to 'material goods', and not to just any thing that exists, such as a natural resource. She makes this clear in "The Virtue of Selfishness", p. 91...."Since material goods are produced by the mind...if the producer does not own the result of his efforts, he does not own his life" (Ayn Rand). Thus the concept of ownership differs from the concept of property rights in these ways (1) one can hold both ownership and property rights (2) one can hold property rights but not ownership, both of these situations are allowed under a proper Objectivist ethics. For the above reasons, citizens can pass laws that would grant ownership of a metaphysical object that is a natural resource, such as a flowing stream, to the government as a proper role of government to protect the property rights of all individuals that have a direct access to the steam for use. It is the concept of ownership that permits DETERMINATION of the proper and legal way any object can be used or disposed, that is, according to Rand, ownership puts legal constraint(s) on property rights. Thus it is the concept of ownership of the book you purchased written by Ayn Rand that puts constraints on the property rights granted to you by your actions of paying money for the book. In the same way, government ownership of flowing streams and rivers is proper under an Objectivist environmental ethics to put constraints on the property rights granted to those that purchase tracks of land adjacent to a stream.