I Love Rand

Objectivist Environmental Ethics

66 posts in this topic

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 ...

This is wrong. Rand holds that rights apply only to individuals and not to collectives like "the People."

to delegate via a Constituional document.

Wrong. According to Rand, rights are inalienable and rights, with only two exceptions, cannot be delegated. Those exceptions are the right to use force in self-defense and the use of retaliatory force. Nothing else can or should be delegated to government,

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, ...

No, she doesn't. She discusses how individuals come to own natural resources.

Rand explained the process this way (1) the source of government authority is the consent of the governed..

No, it's not. According to Rand, the source of a government's authority is that it has a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. The source of a proper government's authority is the need to to put the use of retaliatory force under objective control.

(2) the People grant the government a right to act as a custodian of ownerless resources,

Ayn Rand never said any such thing. Individuals may have a government act as the custodian of unowned property.

(3) for such resources the government has a right

Governments don't have rights.

to define objectively impartial rules by which potential owners (the People) may acquire ownership

Not according to Rand. She said the government can define objectively impartial rules by which potential owners -- individuals only -- may acquire ownership.

(4) potential owners of natural resources are not limited to individuals but also include associations, non profit organizations, etc.

which are collections of some individuals and not others.

plus the government itself

Wrong. According to Rand, the government may own only such property necessary for its only proper purpose -- protection of individual rights from the initiation of force. That means the police, the military, and the courts -- and that's all.

(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.

Nope. According to Rand, that's not a proper function of government and "the People" don't have rights.

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.

"Logical" arguments from false premises prove nothing.

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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.

We're trying to explain why you are misunderstanding what Rand wrote. The opinions you have expressed are wrong. You need more knowledge of what her actual position on these issues actually is, but to get it, you have to be open to the idea that you're reading Rand wrong.

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.

Actually, I was asking why you love Rand, as indicated by your screen name. If you love Rand because you think she supports ideas which she, in fact, rejected, maybe you don't love her as much as you think you do.

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Rand explained the process this way (1) the source of government authority is the consent of the governed..

No, it's not. According to Rand, the source of a government's authority is that it has a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. The source of a proper government's authority is the need to to put the use of retaliatory force under objective control.

(2) the People grant the government a right to act as a custodian of ownerless resources,

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.

thevirture.jpg

“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..

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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.

.

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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.

We absolutely have to because you are so wrong about what Rand's philosophy has to say about the topic you raised.

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 ?

You've been getting replies answering your question and challenging you assertions and you haven't addressed them.

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.

That's wrong for the reason's we've already given you. Repeating this assertion adds nothing.

At this point, I don't know whether you are

1) A troll who actually hates Rand

2) Someone who is out to promote the idea of government ownership of natural resources to fans of Rand by googling for and pulling random quotes out of context and misinterpreting them to support his position, unaware that his interpretation is dead wrong and at odds with Ayn Rand's fundamental principles.

3) Someone who is honest and heard a thing or two about Ayn Rand that he likes, but has little or no first-hand experience with Ayn Rand's own writings other than a quote or essay here and there. That's OK because we all start with ignorance, yet what concerns me is how you speak with authority and certainty while making claims about Rand that just ain't so and how unwilling you have been so far to answer our objections or correct your own mistaken views.

I'll assume the best, that it is the third possibility. Even so, at this point, I will not continue this discussion until you first answer a question I asked a few posts ago: What do you know about Ayn Rand and what is the source of your knowledge? Ayn Rand or what certain people have said about her? What books and articles by Rand have you actually read?

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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.

Once I put the river to productive use, it's mine. It may well be that others can find other productive uses for it that don't interfere with my use, but that's nowhere near the People owning it, and government having the right to determine how it's used.

(I come across an unowned forest and a nearby valley I think would make a great town. I cut down enough timber to build a few homes and a shopping district. I advertise what I've done, set the necessary zoning and bylaws, and start to sell parts of the town: shops, houses, multi-use open land, a plot that has ideal access to a sea of oil a few hundred feet underneath the surface, etc. Where in that use of natural resources, which I didn't create, does anyone have the right to intervene with my plans and why?)

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Rand explained the process this way (1) the source of government authority is the consent of the governed..

No, it's not. According to Rand, the source of a government's authority is that it has a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. The source of a proper government's authority is the need to to put the use of retaliatory force under objective control.

(2) the People grant the government a right to act as a custodian of ownerless resources,

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.

thevirture.jpg

“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..

You are missing the entire context that Rand uses the "consent of the governed" to apply to. Let's provide it here (http://ari.aynrand.org/issues/government-and-business/individual-rights):

The nature of the laws proper to a free society and the source of its government’s authority are both to be derived from the nature and purpose of a proper government. The basic principle of both is indicated in the Declaration of Independence: “to secure these [individual] rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .”

Since the protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of a government, it is the only proper subject of legislation: all laws must be based on individual rights and aimed at their protection. All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it.

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.

There is only one basic principle to which an individual must consent if he wishes to live in a free, civilized society: the principle of renouncing the use of physical force and delegating to the government his right of physical self-defense, for the purpose of an orderly, objective, legally defined enforcement. Or, to put it another way, he must acceptthe separation of force and whim (any whim, including his own).

The consent of the governed applies only to the principle of renouncing the use of physical force and delegating the right of self defense to the government. There is no implication of delegating ownership rights, or any other rights, to the government.

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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.

.

Rand did not say "citizens can delegate rights to government if they so wish to delegate." See my post above. Such consent applies only to the use of physical force and self defense. As has been mentioned before, if there is no ownership, how can citizens delegate ownership rights to the government since they don't have such rights to delegate? You're statement is a logical fallacy.

So, on to your question. "What are the proper uses of natural resources that Rand allows governments to define and protect via laws and rules as custodians?" My answer is NONE. The only rules that are needed are the laws needed to establish ownership rights and how to protect the rights of those who earn the right to own the previously unowned property. "The proper use of natural resources" is outside the province of governmental laws.

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But that's what a property right is. A property right is not the right to a physical thing, but the right to use and dispose of a physical thing in a specified way, A property right -- like all rights -- is not a right to a thing, but to an action.

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context.

[...]

The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

[...]

Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object.

-- Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights" (link) [Emphasis mine]

I take it then there is a significant distinction between saying "I have a right to this lamp, as I have purchased it" and "This lamp is my property". Rights concern one's relation to other men, and freedom of action in that regard within the context of rational law. It is different then to say "It is mine" and "I have a right to it," though the latter is implied in the former. Is that right?

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I take it then there is a significant distinction between saying "I have a right to this lamp, as I have purchased it" and "This lamp is my property". Rights concern one's relation to other men, and freedom of action in that regard within the context of rational law. It is different then to say "It is mine" and "I have a right to it," though the latter is implied in the former. Is that right?

"I Love Rand" was arguing that ownership and having a property right are not the same thing and I was trying to point out that they are the same because both refer to what actions you may take with regard to a physical thing.

He was arguing that if you buy a copy of Atlas Shrugged and cannot legally make copies and sell them because the Estate of Ayn Rand owns the copyright, then you don't really own that book.

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Ownership of a particular property is your right of use and disposal for that property. See the discussion of property rights in "The Property Status Of Airwaves" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

Ownership doesn't mean you can do anything you want with the property in the name of "ownership". If you own a gun you can't go out and shoot people with it just because you own it. If you own a book, you own that particular copy of the book, not the copyright allowing you to make and disseminate more copies of it. All rights are contextual.

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I take it then there is a significant distinction between saying "I have a right to this lamp, as I have purchased it" and "This lamp is my property".

The first specifies why in that particular case it is your property.

Rights concern one's relation to other men, and freedom of action in that regard within the context of rational law.

A right is a moral principle sanctioning the freedom of action in the context of other men. A legal right is the recognition of the right in law.

It is different then to say "It is mine" and "I have a right to it," though the latter is implied in the former. Is that right?

If you were all alone and there were no context of other men in society than what would it mean to say "it is mine" -- as distinguished from what?

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I take it then there is a significant distinction between saying "I have a right to this lamp, as I have purchased it" and "This lamp is my property".

The first specifies why in that particular case it is your property.

Agreed.

Rights concern one's relation to other men, and freedom of action in that regard within the context of rational law.

A right is a moral principle sanctioning the freedom of action in the context of other men. A legal right is the recognition of the right in law.

Perhaps better to say: "Rights concern one's relation to other men, and complete freedom of action in that regard within the context of the fact that other men possess rights as well."

It is different then to say "It is mine" and "I have a right to it," though the latter is implied in the former. Is that right?

If you were all alone and there were no context of other men in society than what would it mean to say "it is mine" -- as distinguished from what?

From not being mine. :) When I pluck a banana from a tree existing in the state of nature, i.e. "[mix my] labour" with it, as Locke wrote, it becomes my own, regardless of whether other men are present. In other words, to speak of property, and to speak of property rights, are different things entirely. One does acquire all valid property rights when a thing becomes one's property, but these only become necessary when other men appear. (Wynand spoke of the example of buying a cheap ashtray, which, when he acquired it, gained a certain quality.)

Locke also wrote, "every man has a property in his own person...." Even were other men not present, wouldn't you consider your body still yours, and distinguished fundamentally from other things in the world that are not so?

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No, if there were no one else around you would have a concept of self but not of 'mine' in the sense of ownership because there would be nothing to distinguish it from. There is you versus everything else, and there is a distinction between what you have made or used or seen versus everything else, but no facts giving rise to the concept of ownership.

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Not even the fact that, even if alone, I have labored to gain the thing?

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Everything would be at your disposal no matter to what degree you worked to make it. You would know you made it, which is different from using something you find, but that wouldn't distinguish it from your using anything at all that exists for your own purpose whether or not you made it. Ownership does not mean "I made it". There would be no moral difference, as a matter of ownership, between eating corn you planted and picking berries from a field you happened to wander into.

The closed you could come is something like a raccoon eating the corn you planted, and you not liking that after all the effort you put into it. But morality and rights don't apply to animals, who do what they are born to do and make no conceptual or moral choices. The animal kingdom does not give rise to the concept of rights, or property rights and ownership in particular.

You would still know the concept of ownership if you already held it and everyone else suddenly disappeared, but the point of the abstraction projecting no one else around you, ever, is what facts are available to motivate and form the concept? Ownership distinguishes what is yours from what is not, either unowned, or controlled right by others. With no others, the concept of ownership does not arise.

Concepts classify things together that are similar against things that are commensurably different, like two shades of red against a blue, to group the two red shades under the concept "red". Without difference there is no similarity. With no social context there is no reason to group together the things that you "own", as opposed to grouping together the things you made against those you didn't. In a context of no other people around, you are morally right to use anything on earth and the concept of rights or ownership do not arise.

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