I Love Rand

Objectivist Environmental Ethics

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Ayn Rand held that in a free society all property is privately owned. A right is moral principle sanctioning freedom of action in a social context. A property right in particular is the right of use and disposal.

In a free society a proper government must be limited in its functions. The citizens are free to act in accordance with their rights and are limited only in what they cannot do -- because of laws protecting the rights of all individuals. The government -- as an institution that operates by force -- is limited to doing only what it can and must do. It does not act by freedom and has no "rights". A government that acts through "freedom"of government officials in the name of "rights" to do what they want is tyranny.

Limited government functions require that government have control over limited amounts of property such as some buildings and the land they are on. It can only use that property in accordance with its required, proper functions, for example as an office, jail or fort. It does not act by "right" and has no freedom of action do whatever it wants with the property. It may hold the deed to legally establish its control over a particular property, but it has no property rights. Again, in a proper society all property is privately owned. That is the only form of ownership rights permitted.

The notion of government "owning" property on behalf of "the people" is collectivism antithetical to Ayn Rand's principles of ethics and political philosophy. Collective "ownership" or government "ownership" is not owning property at all; it is a lack of ownership. When the government "owns" something, no one owns it. Government control over resources in the name of "ownership" is the opposite of property rights.

It may make sense for a number of specific people, for example along a stream or road, to share ownership in some form, such as the right of passage, through joint ownership. There may be a legal partnership or corporation responsible for maintenance. That is an application of property rights and is distinct from government control in the name of collective ownership by "the people".

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.

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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".

What does "determination of use" mean and could you give some examples?

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.

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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.

There's a very good reason why a government should never be granted ownership of "natural resources" that is central to Ayn Rand's view of what a government is and what its only proper function is.

A government -- unlike any other group or organization -- is FORCE. Ayn Rand defines a government -- good, bad, or mixed -- as "an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area." By "enforce" she means the power to compel people to do things using physical force or the threat of force to hurt, kill, or imprison people or to take their property.

Rand's view is that no one should ever initiate the use of force and the only proper function of a government is as the citizen's agent of self-defense using retaliatory force.

"In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative."

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."

Such government "protection" would require the government, in fact, to initiate the use of force against people who have forced no one.

And just who would do the delegating of these rights to the government? The people who don't have a right to the natural resource? (Having the "potential" to use a resource does not confer a property right. Only actual use does.) If they do have a right to a resource, what happens if they object to the government telling them what to do with their own property?

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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".

What does "determination of use" mean and could you give some examples?

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.

I've read just about all of Ayn Rand's published writings and I never saw her use the concept of "determination of use." Could you give a cite? If not, I'll continue to assume that this is your concept and not Ayn Rand's. If so, in order to understand you, I really need a proper (genus and differentia) definition of what the term means. (See Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Chapter 5, "Definitions")

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.

That is not what Rand meant at all. If you think otherwise, can you quote something she wrote which supports your reading of Rand?

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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.

This doesn't make sense. If a possible use for a car is to run over people, as the owner of the car, I have a right to determine that it is used that way? The examples could be multiplied many times.

Also, to say that I don't own a book because I can't use it any and every way, your conclusion doesn't follow. In any trade, ownership is recognized within the context of the conditions of the sale. If I buy a gun from a gun shop, he's selling it to me on condition that I use it legally. If the gun shop owner were to sell me the gun with the knowledge or assumption that I was going to kill someone or rob a bank, the gun shop owner would be legally accountable for my use of the gun.

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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".

What does "determination of use" mean and could you give some examples?

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.

I've read just about all of Ayn Rand's published writings and I never saw her use the concept of "determination of use." Could you give a cite? If not, I'll continue to assume that this is your concept and not Ayn Rand's. If so, in order to understand you, I really need a proper (genus and differentia) definition of what the term means. (See Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Chapter 5, "Definitions")

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.

That is not what Rand meant at all. If you think otherwise, can you quote something she wrote which supports your reading of Rand?

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.

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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.

This doesn't make sense. If a possible use for a car is to run over people, as the owner of the car, I have a right to determine that it is used that way? The examples could be multiplied many times.

Also, to say that I don't own a book because I can't use it any and every way, your conclusion doesn't follow. In any trade, ownership is recognized within the context of the conditions of the sale. If I buy a gun from a gun shop, he's selling it to me on condition that I use it legally. If the gun shop owner were to sell me the gun with the knowledge or assumption that I was going to kill someone or rob a bank, the gun shop owner would be legally accountable for my use of the gun.

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.

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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]

It does, but that does not mean that an owner of a material good has "The ultimate right to determine how that good is used under all possible uses." That would turn ownership into an a-contextual absolute, which, as Paul's Here just argued, would allow the owner to use an object he owns to violate someone else's rights. That's not what ownership means or implies. Ownership always means the right to use and dispose of a physical thing which does not violate the rights of others such as their lives and liberties or their property rights to specific uses such as copyrights, mineral rights, etc.

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.

Remember that ownership of any physical thing -- metaphysical or man-made -- means the right of use and disposal which are actions, not physical things. A person acquires ownership of a physical thing by making it or by buying it from a previous owner. But what about "natural resources?"

Obviously, a person does not acquire a property right by making a river, but he does by using it. He acquires the right to use the river for fishing by fishing in it, the right to use it for watering his livestock by using it for that, etc. If nobody is using the river, it is unowned.

The only thing the government may properly do is to establish and enforce laws defining the standards for acquiring ownership of unowned material things such as land, rivers, etc. A good example of such a law would be the Homestead Acts which established ownership of lands on the American frontier.

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.

But all individuals don't have the right to use natural resources. Specific uses of natural resources are either owned by someone who first uses them (or purchased from a previous owner) or they are unowned. There's no way to violate anybody's rights to unowned material things. As for violations of rights to owned property, the owner can press charges for criminal violations and/or sue civilly for damages without the government having any kind of ownership.

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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".

That's incorrect. A person's rights are only constrained by the rights of other men.

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.

Incorrect. A person can acquire ownership of property by getting it, by trade or as a gift, from a previous owner who had the right to dispose of it by trading or gifting it.

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, ...

According to Rand, it certainly does. If you think otherwise, let's have a cite.

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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".

That's incorrect. A person's rights are only constrained by the rights of other men.

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.

Incorrect. A person can acquire ownership of property by getting it, by trade or as a gift, from a previous owner who had the right to dispose of it by trading or gifting it.

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, ...

According to Rand, it certainly does. If you think otherwise, let's have a cite.

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.

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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.

It's both, just like rights -- including property rights -- are.

If ownership is not something originally acquired through mental effort, what is it? A grant from the government. A piece of paper like a deed that says you own something?

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.

Are you saying that the owner of property can never transfer ownership by trade or gift? It's one thing to say that ownership of a product begins with a producer, but quite another that it always stays with the producer. Where did Ayn Rand ever say that?

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How do you go from "You cannot obtain the products of a mind..." to you cannot own the object you've traded for, all you get is the "right to use the product produced, and on the owners terms and only by the owner"? If I sell something, the terms are that the other person now owns it.

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Ayn Rand held that in a free society all property is privately owned. A right is moral principle sanctioning freedom of action in a social context. A property right in particular is the right of use and disposal.

In a free society a proper government must be limited in its functions. The citizens are free to act in accordance with their rights and are limited only in what they cannot do -- because of laws protecting the rights of all individuals. The government -- as an institution that operates by force -- is limited to doing only what it can and must do. It does not act by freedom and has no "rights". A government that acts through "freedom"of government officials in the name of "rights" to do what they want is tyranny.

Limited government functions require that government have control over limited amounts of property such as some buildings and the land they are on. It can only use that property in accordance with its required, proper functions, for example as an office, jail or fort. It does not act by "right" and has no freedom of action do whatever it wants with the property. It may hold the deed to legally establish its control over a particular property, but it has no property rights. Again, in a proper society all property is privately owned. That is the only form of ownership rights permitted.

The notion of government "owning" property on behalf of "the people" is collectivism antithetical to Ayn Rand's principles of ethics and political philosophy. Collective "ownership" or government "ownership" is not owning property at all; it is a lack of ownership. When the government "owns" something, no one owns it. Government control over resources in the name of "ownership" is the opposite of property rights.

It may make sense for a number of specific people, for example along a stream or road, to share ownership in some form, such as the right of passage, through joint ownership. There may be a legal partnership or corporation responsible for maintenance. That is an application of property rights and is distinct from government control in the name of collective ownership by "the people".

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.

How do the People come to own these resources?

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Ayn Rand held that in a free society all property is privately owned. A right is moral principle sanctioning freedom of action in a social context. A property right in particular is the right of use and disposal.

In a free society a proper government must be limited in its functions. The citizens are free to act in accordance with their rights and are limited only in what they cannot do -- because of laws protecting the rights of all individuals. The government -- as an institution that operates by force -- is limited to doing only what it can and must do. It does not act by freedom and has no "rights". A government that acts through "freedom"of government officials in the name of "rights" to do what they want is tyranny.

Limited government functions require that government have control over limited amounts of property such as some buildings and the land they are on. It can only use that property in accordance with its required, proper functions, for example as an office, jail or fort. It does not act by "right" and has no freedom of action do whatever it wants with the property. It may hold the deed to legally establish its control over a particular property, but it has no property rights. Again, in a proper society all property is privately owned. That is the only form of ownership rights permitted.

The notion of government "owning" property on behalf of "the people" is collectivism antithetical to Ayn Rand's principles of ethics and political philosophy. Collective "ownership" or government "ownership" is not owning property at all; it is a lack of ownership. When the government "owns" something, no one owns it. Government control over resources in the name of "ownership" is the opposite of property rights.

It may make sense for a number of specific people, for example along a stream or road, to share ownership in some form, such as the right of passage, through joint ownership. There may be a legal partnership or corporation responsible for maintenance. That is an application of property rights and is distinct from government control in the name of collective ownership by "the people".

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.

How do the People come to own these resources?

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.

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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.

It's both, just like rights -- including property rights -- are.

If ownership is not something originally acquired through mental effort, what is it? A grant from the government. A piece of paper like a deed that says you own something?

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.

Are you saying that the owner of property can never transfer ownership by trade or gift? It's one thing to say that ownership of a product begins with a producer, but quite another that it always stays with the producer. Where did Ayn Rand ever say that?

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.

It's both, just like rights -- including property rights -- are.

If ownership is not something originally acquired through mental effort, what is it? A grant from the government. A piece of paper like a deed that says you own something?

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.

Are you saying that the owner of property can never transfer ownership by trade or gift? It's one thing to say that ownership of a product begins with a producer, but quite another that it always stays with the producer. Where did Ayn Rand ever say that?

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 ?

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Are you saying that the owner of property can never transfer ownership by trade or gift? It's one thing to say that ownership of a product begins with a producer, but quite another that it always stays with the producer. Where did Ayn Rand ever say that?

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 ?

No it wouldn't. Such a claim would contradict too many facts of history, too many facts of economics, too many facts of established law, and too many of Ayn Rand's own explicit statements and principles.

Faced with all those contradictions, such a claim would be a premise that should be checked -- and rejected.

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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.

This is not true and it is not the Objectivist position. While physical things that are not created by man and are not used by individuals are unowned, those things, if used by individuals, are owned by those individuals who acquire ownership by such use.

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But, very important, this does mean that such objects [as rivers] do not have potential to be owned by some entity ...

Potential to be owned or used confers absolutely no ownership or rights. Only actual creation or use does.

iff such ownership right is delegated to some entity by the People.

Only individuals have rights. "The People" is a collective and does not have rights. How can an entity like "The People" which does not have property rights delegate them to another entity? If I don't own your car, I can't "delegate" it's use to somebody else.

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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

As I wrote before, "The People" cannot grant ownership rights that they don't have, but let's assume you simply mean all the individuals who have acquired property rights by using the river. Any one of them can sell or give their property rights to the government, but that's not binding on the other people who have an ownership right to the same entity. If I fish in the river, I have no right to sell or give away the rights of someone who swims in the river.

Also, it is untrue that the government is the only entity that individuals can sell or give their rights to natural resources to. They can also sell or give them to another individual, a corporation, a non-profit organization, or to their grandchildren.

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>>>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. <<<

You keep declaring what an Objectivist society would and wouldn't do on a forum that's packed with people that know the philosophy in and out. (You may want to look into who it is you're making these pronouncements to.)

>>> 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. <<<

and

>>> The short answer to your question is....via legal delegation by the People of such right. <<<

You're begging the question here, in the sense that you're assuming that the People have the right to delegate ownership rights as part of an answer to the question, "How do the People come to own these resources?"

>>> 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. <<<

All this does is lead to the question, how is it that everyone has the right to access such resources? That's another form of the question I asked originally: "How do the People come to own these resources?"

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Are you saying that the owner of property can never transfer ownership by trade or gift? It's one thing to say that ownership of a product begins with a producer, but quite another that it always stays with the producer. Where did Ayn Rand ever say that?

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 ?

No it wouldn't. Such a claim would contradict too many facts of history, too many facts of economics, too many facts of established law, and too many of Ayn Rand's own explicit statements and principles.

Faced with all those contradictions, such a claim would be a premise that should be checked -- and rejected.

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.

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Are you saying that the owner of property can never transfer ownership by trade or gift? It's one thing to say that ownership of a product begins with a producer, but quite another that it always stays with the producer. Where did Ayn Rand ever say that?

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 ?

No it wouldn't. Such a claim would contradict too many facts of history, too many facts of economics, too many facts of established law, and too many of Ayn Rand's own explicit statements and principles.

Faced with all those contradictions, such a claim would be a premise that should be checked -- and rejected.

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 ?

The above is quite different from what you've expressed before. Nothing that I would disagree with.

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.

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.

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You're begging the question here, in the sense that you're assuming that the People have the right to delegate ownership rights as part of an answer to the question, "How do the People come to own these resources?"

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.

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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.

You are seriously mistaken about what constitutes "a proper understanding of Objectivist ethics." It shows in most of what you have written so far. You misunderstand or seem unfamiliar with basic concepts like individual rights, the nature and proper role of government, the necessity of defining terms and of supporting conclusions with something more than just a quote from Ayn Rand, etc. This is Objectivism 101 stuff.

Since you say you love Rand, maybe we can help. Give us an idea about what you've read or heard about Ayn Rand and what you find most interesting and attractive in that. Then we could give you leads for further study that will fill in the gaps of your knowledge.

Once you get a better grounding in Objectivist principles, the rest of us might be better able to help you apply them to specific cases. Many of us here on THE FORUM have studied Objectivism for decades. I myself have read all of Rand's books and have attended lectures on Objectivism for more than fifty years -- including with Ayn Rand herself in the 1960's and 1970's -- but it's hard for me to communicate with someone who presumes to tell me what "a proper understanding of Objectivist ethics" is while not knowing many of Ayn Rand's most fundamental ideas.

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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.

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