SandySandfort on May 13, 2011, 10:51:38 am
As promised, here is the explanation about how one limits legal liability in a market anarchy. It solution should be obvious to anyone who understands the concepts of voluntary dispute resolution (arbitration) applying common law principles, under the ZAP in a market economy.

First, though, let explain what it isn't. It is not a get-out-of-jail card for individuals whose personal actions cause loss or harm to another (as defined by the ZAP). This is no different than under current legal systems. There are always limits, to limited liability.

Now the truth of the matter is, under the conditions in the first paragraph, above, limited liability does not require any particular entity such as a joint stock company or a business trust. They only thing they really bring to the table are pre-existing structures, created without having to ask for government permission. So using them opens up a lot of "history" to interpretation and precedents that help create predictability and guidance, should arbitration be necessary.

In a market anarchy, any group-action (business or otherwise) entity can limit its liability. In fact, any individual can limit his/her liability in the same way and to the same extent.

How is that possible? Easy, you simply declare it! Well, maybe not simply, but certainly easily. This is not unprecedented in the least. Remember I asked the question about how corporations could lose their limited liability protection? Depending on the circumstances certain ultra vires acts can lead to it loss of limited liability protection. In practice this usually means the sole owner has acted beyond the legal scope of the corporation's power or has ignored the formalities of the legal separation between himself as an individual and his corporation.

More on point, though, another way to lose the protection is to fail to give sufficient notice to people with whom the corporation does business, that it is an entity of limited liability. An example of this is most obvious when someone has incorporated his business, for legal protection, but does not use words denoting limitations on liability. So Dr. Monkey could incorporate his practice as "Dr. Monkey, Inc.," "Dr. Monkey, Ltd.," "Dr. Monkey, Corporation.," "Dr. Monkey, LLC.," "Dr. Monkey, SA." (in Latin countries) and so on. However, if the good doctor does not use one of those designations and simply holds his medical services out as "Dr. Monkey," if he commits malpractice, his entire financial butt is on the line, not just the assets within the corporation.

So, the declaration of limits of liability is very important in law. Why? Because it lets people make an informed decision as to whether to do business with the company in question. If you do business with Dr. Monkey, you have a reasonable expectation that he is willing to back up his medical expertise with his all wealth. If on the other hand, you do business with Dr. Monkey, Inc., that tells you that he is not willing to stand behind his work product. So when he commits malpractice, you will be SOL beyond the limited corporate assets.

Now, this is not to say that limits on liability are bad. In fact, they serve a valuable socioeconomic purpose that benefits everyone. If an investor had to expose himself to unlimited liability for every $10 investment he made, it is obvious that there would be few, if any, investors. However, large projects that provide cars, homes, medical care, etc. need a great deal of start-up capital. Without limiting the liability of investors, much of modern civilization would not be possible.

Okay, what do I mean with regard to an individual or group "declaring" limited liability and how would it work in practice? In a new society on a frontier, I think an individual or group would have to make a very explicit declaration. Let's use a farmers co-op as an example. The co-op is a group of 100 farmers who have entered into an agreement to act as a single business entity. They adopted the joint stock company as their business model. Each of the farmers buys shares in the co-op. The reason they joined together is because they want to eliminate the middlemen--food brokers and grocery store owners--to increase their profits from the sale of their agricultural products. So they create the "Farmer Direct to You Co-op." The Co-op will buy trucks to distribute its products to its own grocery stores.

All fine and well, but what if there is a slip-and-fall in one of their stores? Without some limitation on liability, all the farmers would be jointly and severally liable to a huge judgment against them. That means a judgment creditor can sue and collect from any farmer he chooses. So before going into business, the farmers decide to limit their liability by prominently posting a sign outside each Co-op store that says, "The Farmer Direct to You Co-op hereby puts you on notice that by entering these premises, you accept that any judgment arising from a accident in the store will be limited to the assets of the Co-op and that the individual shareholders of the Co-op may not be held individually liable."

So given this scenario, a shopper has a slip-and-fall and sues everyone and his brother in arbitration. He sues the Co-op and farmers 1-100 and their heirs and assign. He sues their dogs. Assuming you are the arbiter in this case, what liability would you find in the farmers, individually? Of course, it is obvious. As long as the declaration of limitation of liability was sufficiently clear, by entering the premises, plaintiff would be found to have assumed the risk under the stated temporary license of entry. He could sue the Co-op, but not its owners. Q.E.D.

My guess is that over time, as this concept became generally understood, it might only be necessary to append "Limited" or some such to the name, for a business to achieve limited liability, but that would be up to arbiter decisions over time.

Before you start positing edge cases, ("Yeah, but what if the customer could only read Urdu, huh? What about that?") let me remind you that we already face similar situations today and courts have already addressed the issue. You might not like the answer, but answers there are. That is why it is called "dispute resolution." In real life, some resolution is usually better than no resolution at all. For one thing, giving everyone their "day in court" greatly reduces the dangers of "self help."

I think the preceding disquisition is clear, obvious and dispositive of the question of limited liability in the Belt. If you disagree, want clarification or (praise be!) see this as a rational approach to liability allocation in a dispute resolution, please jump right in.

Tucci78 on May 13, 2011, 11:45:55 am
I'd been paying attention to the thread upon which this subject began to be discussed, and had posted there just a bit before I'd noticed that Counselor Scuttling Weasel had made this effort to offer his brilliant suggestion about how limited liability might work in an AnCap society. 

Might as well transplant it over here.

The more I give it thought, the more convinced I've become that limited liability would not be possible in an AnCap society. The conditions required to make such a "legal fiction" work - the evasion of responsibility for injuries inadvertently inflicted upon other people - simply cannot exist in the absence of a government. 

People in the Belt would have to act at all times and in all ways with a great sense of consequence.  With the unimpaired authority to act must come the unabated responsibility to deal with adverse eventualities resulting from those actions.

I think you're right in principle. But when people use language they almost never use it in exactly the same way, and trying to pin down definitions only compounds the problem. Mutual understanding is often more poetic than otherwise.

In any field of human endeavor, technical language - contemptuously dismissed as "jargon" - is developed in order to reduce such confusion (and to foreclose shyster duplicity) by increasing specificity and precision.  This helps to mitigate the errors of interpretation. 

Effort invested in "trying to pin down definitions" is, in fact, precisely what's required to solve the problem. 

So, the purpose that encourages people to support limited liability laws is that they want not to be held responsible for things they actually are not responsible for. Say you are a minor partner in a business. You live in San Francisco. A low-paid employee of the corporation in Washington DC makes a mistake that injures thousands of people. And the lawyers sue *you* for everything you've got. We don't want that.

There could be methods that tend to prevent that sort of travesty, without government force. Those methods could be called "limited liability".

Nope. There must be a government - a "standing army" ready to intervene with aggressive violence in human affairs - operating to provide any "limited liability" in the sense where we're using the expression here.

Were a collective enterprise - that Mordor-on-the-Potomac "business" in which the San Francisco resident is invested - to cause harm to someone in its proximal area of operations, what we're speaking about is an arguable violation of individual rights perpetrated (whether deliberately or inadvertently) by the agents of the business. 

The concept of "limited liability" is nothing more than the intervention of government thugs to prevent the enforcement of the injured parties' rights.

In an AnCap society, "no government" means "no limited liability."  No way, no how, no matter what the guy in San Francisco (or anybody else) might want. 

You could be completely correct, and still Sandy could have a point claiming that liability is not always completely unlimited.

I expect that whatever you do *yourself*, you will be completely liable for. You can't divide yourself up into ten corporations and hire yourself by one corporation at a time so that whatever you do cannot lose more than 10% of your net worth.

But you are not always completely liable for what your employees do without your permission. And you are not always completely liable for the details of what people do as side effects while fulfilling contracts for you. Etc.

No, I'm pretty well convinced that Sandy is wrong, both because he hadn't really thought this issue through and  because he's now obstinately refusing to admit that he's trying to build his argument on a foundation with the tensile strength of an aerogel.

Anybody who has ever employed people understands the concept of "chain of command" liability, even if he's never been sued for some error or malefaction committed by one of his employees. There are always questions that need to be settled about responsibility both direct (was the damage done while the subordinate was following procedures and implementing policies that you had ordained?) and indirect (was your employee being supervised to within a "reasonable" degree in order to prevent misadventure?), but if you own the business - even just a piece of it - it's your responsibility. 

That's why even limited liability companies issuing common and preferred stock have stockholders' meetings which not only have to vet major policy decisions but also provide for the election of directors who are supposed to embody the everyday exercise of the owning stockholders' responsibility to supervise the employees managing the business. 

Unlike Sandy, who's been weaseling about how "limited liability" might be secured in an AnCap society (it ain't gonna happen, folks), I know of one way in which it should be possible for a business enterprise to gain capitalization from the fat cats and the small fry alike without vesting ownership responsibilities in those who provide the valuta. It's got plenty of precedent.

Remember, buying stock in a corporation makes you a part owner of that corporation, and to the extent that your share of that company is a fraction of the corporation's liabilities (as well as its assets), you are - or you sure as hell ought to be - responsible for what your employees do or fail to do, acting as your agents.

Such businesses, however, routinely take out loans, some formally secured by stipulated assets, some unsecured.  The issue of corporate bonds is nothing more than floating a loan, with the promise to pay at a certain rate of interest during a specified period. The secondary market value of such bonds tends to depend upon the perception of the issuing company's relative reliability as a payor.  "Good" companies' bonds sell at a premium.  Corporations perceived as unreliable or declining in their market performance have their outstanding instruments of debt discounted in this secondary market, and when they come again before the public to take out subsequent loans, they either have to offer higher rates of interest or they're diddled.

Instead of you "buying a piece of the action" in becoming a stockholder, you either lend directly to the owners of the enterprise by purchasing a bond (in whole or in part) from them, or you take part in the loan indirectly, by way of the secondary market. 

You do not get to make decisions as a part-owner of the business, but you also don't have to worry about being dispossessed of your personal property to compensate somebody injured by one of the enterprise's employees. 

Your liability in case of an adverse outcome is limited to what you've lent the business, when and if the owners of the business default on those loans.

Because "limited liability" is impossible in an AnCap society, I tend to go along with writer L. Neil Smith, who has observed that a libertarian sociopolitical system would be the first genuinely adult society in the history of the human race.

=====

To continue in light of Counselor Weasel's self-satisfied excuse for a solution....

In a market anarchy, any group-action (business or otherwise) entity can limit its liability. In fact, any individual can limit his/her liability in the same way and to the same extent.

How is that possible? Easy, you simply declare it! Well, maybe not simply, but certainly easily.

Shorn of hypothetical exemplification, that's it. 

As in "that's all of it."  All there is.

In effect, what Counselor Weasel is proposing is the restoration of explicit and implicit contract as opposed to what has been so perniciously subsumed by tort in America's judicial system over the past half-century and more.

Counselor Weasel is saying that when a customer walks onto the premises of the farmers' co-op, he's entering into a contractual relationship with the owners to the effect that there's no way to claim compensation for injuries inflicted (no matter how grievous) beyond the limits set by the owners in posting the notice mentioned by Counselor Weasel.

How this works if one of the co-op's trucks (remember the trucks?) runs through a crowd of people, killing and maiming, we can all wonder about. Counselor Weasel doesn't seem to have considered this.

Maybe he thinks that prominent signs on the trucks declaring some variation on Counselor Weasel's hold harmless declaration ("The Farmer Direct to You Co-op hereby puts you on notice that by entering these premises, you accept that any judgment arising from a accident in the store will be limited to the assets of the Co-op and that the individual shareholders of the Co-op may not be held individually liable") will suffice.

Yeah, sure.

The objective of the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP) is the preservation of individual rights in the course of human interaction.  So how are the rights of negligently or willfully injured parties preserved under the scheme of "limited liability" proposed by Counselor Weasel?

Jeez, we got them (*Crickets chirping*) again, don't we?
« Last Edit: May 13, 2011, 12:00:06 pm by Tucci78 »
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

Ike on May 13, 2011, 12:10:30 pm
I agree that, in a 'market anarchy' - charming phrase by the way - there are no methods of limiting liability because such limitations require a government fiat creating such limitations.  That said, there are methods of distributing the risk or the potential losses.  First, in any business organization which can arise in such a market, the partners or associates may agree among themselves that Partners A, B and C or Shareholders A, B and C in a joint stock assocation, agree to pay for any such liabilities as arise in the course of the business.  Second, insure against the potential future liability.

To the objections that no large enterprise requiring vast capital sums can possibly come into being without laws providing limitations on liability, I point out Lloyd's of London and its associated underwriters etc and the New York Stock Exchange - as well as the various commodities exchanges, bonds exchanges, and similar activities around the world - as counter-factual examples.  The actual source of the problem of acquiring 'vast capital sums' arises from every government's penchant for inflating costs and thereby decreasing the value of money, to the benefit of themselves and their clients/patrons of course.  No?  Look at how many expensive business ventures were financed in the 18th and early to mid 19th centuries in Britain:  rich men pooled their money and it was enough because the government then and there had not yet ruined the value of the money.  Therefore, I hypothesize that in a 'market anarchy' that objection would not prevail, since costs and prices would match their market values and whatever the currency of that time and place would be wouldn't be devaluated by fiat for the benefit of a small portion of the business owners and their rented politicians.

SandySandfort on May 13, 2011, 01:26:30 pm
In scanning Dr. Touchy's diatribe of sound and fury signifying nothing, I note he is simply repeating his claim that you need government to have a limitation on liability, making ad hominem attacks and speculating on my motives and thought processes. "Standing army" my ass! No evidence beyond the bald assertion. Also, I noted that he studiously avoided addressing the Co-op, slip-and-fall, scenario and--most importantly--the arbitration. To wit, would he find for the plaintiff or the defendant... and why? Huh, Touchy? Cue (*Crickets chirping*);D

Remember this is against a background where most posters accept the premise that you can ban smoking on your own property. How big a leap is it to recognize that you can also limit liability? Hell, you could eliminate all liability if you wanted. It is your property. Of course you might get many customers.

On your own property,  you can ban smoking, require smoking or limit your liability and will win in arbitration. Q.E.D.


The objective of the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP) is the preservation of individual rights in the course of human interaction.  So how are the rights of negligently or willfully injured parties preserved under the scheme of "limited liability" proposed by Counselor Weasel?

I'm so glad you asked. It preserves everyone's right to decide with whom they wish to interact. It preserves choice in an open market. If I choose to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I assume the risk that I could die.

If I enter a store that I know limits it liability to the assets of the company itself, but protects its shareholders, I assume the risk of sustaining an injury. even if the assets of the store may be insufficient to cover the cost of such injuries.

Why would I do that when there is a store across the street that posts no such limit. Well, maybe the store that limits its liability, it may have lower expenses due to having fewer frivolous law suits. If it passes along those savings to its customers, I might prefer to take my chances of a slip-and-fall, in order get a buck off on cat litter, If so, I have made an informed decision in a free market. So how about actually addressing my slip-and-fall arbitration instead of... well, weaseling out of it?  ::)

Note to readers: Does anyone else see the irony of a man railing against limited liability in a free market, who relies on a government granted monopoly to ensure higher fees and who hides behind a government limited liability corporation to keeps his losses low when he commits malpractice? He must have taken the "Hypocritical Oath."  ;D

SandySandfort on May 13, 2011, 01:34:38 pm
I agree that, in a 'market anarchy' - charming phrase by the way - there are no methods of limiting liability because such limitations require a government fiat creating such limitations. 

A lot of doubter say that, without any support, yet don't seem to be able to address my quite realistic, co-op, slip-and-fall, limited liability disclaimer, arbitration scenario. Care to give it a shot? Who wins, plaintiff or defendant, and why?

BTW, I agree that there are a number of ways to mitigate losses with insurance-like means and otherwise, but that is obvious.

The question under consideration hre is can you limited liability on your own property or by contract. (We haven't addressed the latter. I assume that is because it is so blinding obvious that even Touchy gets it.  :D

J Thomas on May 13, 2011, 01:45:27 pm

Okay, what do I mean with regard to an individual or group "declaring" limited liability and how would it work in practice? In a new society on a frontier, I think an individual or group would have to make a very explicit declaration. Let's use a farmers co-op as an example. The co-op is a group of 100 farmers who have entered into an agreement to act as a single business entity. They adopted the joint stock company as their business model. Each of the farmers buys shares in the co-op. The reason they joined together is because they want to eliminate the middlemen--food brokers and grocery store owners--to increase their profits from the sale of their agricultural products. So they create the "Farmer Direct to You Co-op." The Co-op will buy trucks to distribute its products to its own grocery stores.

All fine and well, but what if there is a slip-and-fall in one of their stores? Without some limitation on liability, all the farmers would be jointly and severally liable to a huge judgment against them. That means a judgment creditor can sue and collect from any farmer he chooses. So before going into business, the farmers decide to limit their liability by prominently posting a sign outside each Co-op store that says, "The Farmer Direct to You Co-op hereby puts you on notice that by entering these premises, you accept that any judgment arising from a accident in the store will be limited to the assets of the Co-op and that the individual shareholders of the Co-op may not be held individually liable."

So given this scenario, a shopper has a slip-and-fall and sues everyone and his brother in arbitration. He sues the Co-op and farmers 1-100 and their heirs and assign. He sues their dogs. Assuming you are the arbiter in this case, what liability would you find in the farmers, individually? Of course, it is obvious. As long as the declaration of limitation of liability was sufficiently clear, by entering the premises, plaintiff would be found to have assumed the risk under the stated temporary license of entry. He could sue the Co-op, but not its owners. Q.E.D.

I can imagine a society where this is used. I think it could serve the needs of investors in corporations, co-ops, etc.

Now, I want to imagine a co-op where the farmers are a bit paranoid. Farmers know that horrible accidents can happen in an instant.

So they don't just have the co-op to protect their own assets. They have a separate corporation for each individual store. The co-op does business with those corporations, it sells them produce etc. And sometimes the corporations pay extra profits to the parent co-op, though not when they need to make improvements in their building etc. So if someone slips and falls, you don't lose the whole co-op. You only lose one store.

But they can take it farther! Have one corporation that owns the store, which got the money to buy it from a loan from the co-op. It is paying off the co-op's loan as quickly as it can, retaining just enough money for maintenance and improvements. This corporation rents the building to another corporation that sells produce. Now if someone sues for a flaw in the building that resulted in them falling down, they can sue a corporation that owns nothing at all but a heavily-mortgaged building.

Etc. The more corporations the merrier! If you have 1000 corporations, then no one lawsuit can take more than 0.1% of your assets.

Depending on what the society accepts, this could effectively limit liability and serve the needs of business owners and investors. But maybe the society wants less limited liability? The arbitrators would find ways to sue multiple corporations for the same accident.

I don't think legalisms are central to this problem. The issue is, how much do we want liability to be limited? Providing a legal mechanism that lets you salami-slice liability as thin as you want to bother with, does not answer that question at all. Unless the answer to the question is that you should be able to limit liability as much as you want to bother to do.

J Thomas on May 13, 2011, 02:22:00 pm
I noted that he studiously avoided addressing the Co-op, slip-and-fall, scenario and--most importantly--the arbitration. To wit, would he find for the plaintiff or the defendant... and why?

I remember my first year in college, this guy fell on some steps all alone late at night. It was a place with 4 stone steps about 8 feet wide, and they had handrails on either side but not in the middle. He was lying on the ground screaming when some students and campus security found him right away and called the ambulance. They carefully put him into some kind of contraption that kept him from moving at all and took him to the ER. I never actually got the medical reports but I tended to think he was faking. He was a pre-law student and his father was a lawyer. He sued for $1.5 million. He went 4 years without a girlfriend, probably partly because he was a fat guy who wore his big white neckbrace all the time, and he was crabby. But when we graduated he was confident he would win the lawsuit. It would more than pay for his college and law school education.

If I had been on the jury, unless I saw actual medical evidence, I wouldn't have awarded him anything. But if it was somebody else, truly disabled as the result of true negligence, I would.

My criteria are:

1. Was someone negligent?
2. Who was negligent?
3. How much were they negligent?

When people fall down, pretty often they are somewhat negligent themselves. If at all possible I would want to look at the place it happened.

If there was actually a way for only-partly-negligent people to stumble there, what was done to minimise the risk? The best approach is to find a way to eliminate the problem, but marking it helps too.

Etc.

Assign the costs in proportion to whoever the degree of negligence, to the extent that can be determined. Have a partial overlap. Like, 3 negligent parties might be assigned 150% of the debt, and each pays his part as he can with debt exchanged among them as in the discussion of Sandy's 3 criminals. Any one of them might find himself paying as much as 2/3 soon, and get as much as half of his payment back from the others when he can.

As much as practical, base payments on current needs. Within practicality, don't decide on a lump sum ahead of time, but predict expenses and pay expenses as they come up. I'm not sure about this part. It isn't good to reward people for wearing a neck brace for years at a stretch. I'm unclear on the details.

Quote
Remember this is against a background where most posters accept the premise that you can ban smoking on your own property. How big a leap is it to recognize that you can also limit liability? Hell, you could eliminate all liability if you wanted. It is your property. Of course you might get many customers.

On your own property,  you can ban smoking, require smoking or limit your liability and will win in arbitration. Q.E.D.

Sure. You can announce that you claim the right to sodomize at gunpoint anybody who comes onto your property. I wouldn't come onto your property for anything, unless it was to collect my own property that you had stolen, or perhaps to search for my daughter that I had reason to think you had kidnapped. If I have the right to come onto your property (for example to recover my own), then I have the right to do that without following all of your rules.

SandySandfort on May 13, 2011, 03:12:59 pm
My criteria are:

1. Was someone negligent?
2. Who was negligent?
3. How much were they negligent?

You left out contributory negligence.

If your fellow student was blind drunk, that would have clearly constituted contributory negligence. The laws are divided as to how much that mitigates, if at all, the property owner's negligence.

Sure. You can announce that you claim the right to sodomize at gunpoint anybody who comes onto your property. I wouldn't come onto your property for anything, unless it was to collect my own property that you had stolen, or perhaps to search for my daughter that I had reason to think you had kidnapped. If I have the right to come onto your property (for example to recover my own), then I have the right to do that without following all of your rules.

How about addressing my Co-op arbitration? Assume the facts do not involve sodomy, kidnapping or dandruff. Just accept the facts as stated. Who should win, Plaintiff or Defendant and why?

Speaking of Moon is a Harsh Mistress.???  It was the theme for one of my famous epic costume parties. My most famous guest was Poul and Karen Andersen. Great party. I completely shaved my head--including eyebrows. and dressed as a Lunar Freedom Fighter in a black jumpsuit and red beret.

My photos are all in storage in San Francisco, but I was just apprised of a website with a Japanese documentary about the Cypherpunks. After the first 2 minutes some stills from that Harsh Mistress party and other sources are shown. I don't have the beret, but I think you will know which one I am among the still photos. Later, I appear in the outdoor "Cypherpunk Brunch" scene. I think I am interviewed in the second half of the video, but my video software choked for some reason at about the half hour mark.

     http://vimeo.com/23562982

(BTW, our memories differ, but I don't plan to re-read Harsh Mistress to deal with your BO statement. So I will concede you might be right. If you re-read it, please quote me chapter and verse. Memories are notoriously unreliable.)

Tucci78 on May 13, 2011, 03:14:28 pm
Counselor Scuttling Weasel really ought to unwedge his head anent the meaning of the expression "ad hominem," which he's erroneously using in the sense that he's complaining "Tucci's got my number, and I hate being accurately characterized as the arrogant, stumbling chump I truly am."

Insulting - or, in this case, discerning - language (whether conjectural or factual) regarding the character of Counselor Weasel is not argumentum ad hominem, which is a fallacy of logic. 

There could only be ad hominem in an assertion were one to predicate an argument entirely upon some proven, possible, and/or imagined feature of a contending disputant's person instead of on the qualities of that disputant's contentions independent of his characteristics.

To say that Counselor Weasel's position on this or that is not to be received as valid because Counselor Weasel sneaks onto other people's property at night and futters their barnyard animals (for example) instead of addressing the elements in Counselor Weasel's assertions which do not correlate with reality would fall into the category of argumentum ad hominem

Real ad hominem (as opposed to simple insult) is a failure to meet the obligation of an honest disputant to address the goddam subject.  Insult offered incidental to the presentation of lucidly reasoned argument (as I have undertaken to do) is not.

In scanning Dr. Touchy's diatribe of sound and fury signifying nothing, I note he is simply repeating his claim that you need government to have a limitation on liability, making ad hominem attacks and speculating on my motives and thought processes. "Standing army" my ass! No evidence beyond the bald assertion. Also, I noted that he studiously avoided addressing the Co-op, slip-and-fall, scenario and--most importantly--the arbitration. To wit, would he find for the plaintiff or the defendant... and why? Huh, Touchy? Cue (*Crickets chirping*)

Whether or not a particular arbiter might or might not arrive at a particular finding in a particular case is really not relevant, is it? We're working here on the consideration of a more general guideline for human action in an AnCap society, and the fixation of Counselor Weasel on a hypothetical "slip-and-fall" (while shysterly ignoring what we'll call the "truck-gone-amok" scenario) is a genuine straw man fallacy in flagrante delicto.

My assertion regarding the fact that only by way of government fiat can there be "limited liability" as the concept is understood to exist - and other posters in this forum have expressed their concurrent understanding of this usage - is well-supported and irrefutable.

Which is probably why Counselor Weasel is sweating so furiously about it.  Oh, well....

Remember this is against a background where most posters accept the premise that you can ban smoking on your own property. How big a leap is it to recognize that you can also limit liability? Hell, you could eliminate all liability if you wanted. It is your property. Of course you might get many customers.

On your own property,  you can ban smoking, require smoking or limit your liability and will win in arbitration. Q.E.D.

Bullpuckey.  Is Counselor Weasel really trying to peddle the bloody nonsense that there is some kind of equivalence between obliging those visiting one's property to refrain from some specified action - smoking, spitting, fornicating, leaping up-and-down, juggling gerbils, whatever - and preemptively absolving himself (ex cathedra, perhaps?) of responsibility for injury to other human beings such as might be sustained as the result of that property owner's neglect?

May we now begin to infer that Counselor Weasel is suffering from delusions of competence?

The objective of the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP) is the preservation of individual rights in the course of human interaction.  So how are the rights of negligently or willfully injured parties preserved under the scheme of "limited liability" proposed by Counselor Weasel?

I'm so glad you asked. It preserves everyone's right to decide with whom they wish to interact. It preserves choice in an open market. If I choose to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I assume the risk that I could die.

And here's where Counselor Weasel flunks his Bar Exam. In any society, there are uncountable instances in which the human beings participating will be interacting without regard to their consciously directed choices. 

For example, when you decide to honk your horn in order to alert your friend in the convenience store that you're here to pick him up, the person standing across the street hears the noise and is startled.  You have interacted with that person though neither you nor he had decided to do so. 

Have you injured that person who became startled as the result of your horn honk?  Might could happen.  Most "heart attack" deaths are due to ventricular arrhythmias, and the susceptible individual can stumble into a potentially fatal dysrhythmia at the damnedest stimulus, if it hits him at the "right" instant in the cardiac cycle. 

Such interactions can't be prevented if we posit any participation in society.  People simply cannot "decide with whom they wish to interact" in each and every moment as they go about their lives in the presence of other human beings.

Getting on with the examples, should Counselor Weasel "choose to jump out of a perfectly good airplane," he assumes not only the risk that he could die but also the certainty that his body (whether he survives or not) is going to land somewhere, and in an AnCap society, that "somewhere" - ceteris paribus - is going to be some individual human being's property.

Best case, Counselor Weasel spatters himself across somebody's south forty instead of in the middle of a crowd of Kindergarteners standing in the schoolyard during a fire drill.  The potential fertilizer value of Counselor Weasel's remains aside, can it be argued that the owner of that patch of land has been injured - not by choice - through Counselor Weasel's inconsiderate surrender to the law of gravity and the false impression that his hot air would enable him to float?

If I enter a store that I know limits it liability to the assets of the company itself, but protects its shareholders, I assume the risk of sustaining an injury. even if the assets of the store may be insufficient to cover the cost of such injuries.

Why would I do that when there is a store across the street that posts no such limit. Well, maybe the store that limits its liability, it may have lower expenses due to having fewer frivolous law suits. If it passes along those savings to its customers, I might prefer to take my chances of a slip-and-fall, in order get a buck off on cat litter, If so, I have made an informed decision in a free market. So how about actually addressing my slip-and-fall arbitration instead of... well, weaseling out of it? 

In so electing, of course, Counselor Weasel has knowingly entered into a contractual relationship with the owners of the store.  Again - and why the hell is Counselor Weasel evading this? - what we are seeing is nothing more than the value of contract in regularizing human affairs, the old attitude of "You pays your money and you takes your chances."

The function of tort law is to address the realities of injuries inadvertently, accidentally (and, arguably, neglectfully) inflicted upon people in spite of precautions which an arbiter (or other dispassionate judge) might or might not decide had been reasonable and appropriate to the exercise of purposeful human action in the circumstances obtaining. 

Note to readers: Does anyone else see the irony of a man railing against limited liability in a free market, who relies on a government granted monopoly to ensure higher fees and who hides behind a government limited liability corporation to keeps his losses low when he commits malpractice? He must have taken the "Hypocritical Oath." 

Tsk. And this is also an example of Counselor Weasel shoving argumentum ad hominem up the reader's nose. 

Are my personal motives for taking the positions I've articulated - stated or inferred - relevant to this discussion? 

Nope.
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

quadibloc on May 13, 2011, 03:18:22 pm
Now, this is not to say that limits on liability are bad. In fact, they serve a valuable socioeconomic purpose that benefits everyone. If an investor had to expose himself to unlimited liability for every $10 investment he made, it is obvious that there would be few, if any, investors. However, large projects that provide cars, homes, medical care, etc. need a great deal of start-up capital. Without limiting the liability of investors, much of modern civilization would not be possible.
This is true. And this is why, historically, the power of the state to initiate force was used to establish limits on corporate liability. But this historical fact doesn't prove a need to establish it this way: "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail", as they say.

You are also correct that limited liability is in no way a shield for individuals who are culpable under our present system, and so any analogue of it under AnCap wouldn't be expected to do it.

The reason that the power of the state was originally needed, though, to limit corporate liability was because full partners in a company - which is what joint owners were regarded as whatever their share of ownership might be - were regarded as jointly and severally liable for the company's debts under English Common Law.

So, if we suddenly define "initiation of force" as "violation, or amendment, of English Common Law" then force is being initiated if arbitrators suddenly decide to recognize some equity investment arrangement as providing immunity from liability to third parties. If one does not hold English Common Law to be Sacred Writ, then indeed arbitrators might be able to recognize an arrangement which states that small investors are not liable as reasonable.

So the real issue I have that makes me doubtful on this issue is that I think some power to initiate force is implicit in the ability to decide between English Common Law, Xeer Law, and so on and so forth, in the first place. (But then, you've said different arbitrators might use different bases. That one makes my head hurt, but that may be my fault and not yours.)

SandySandfort on May 13, 2011, 04:41:37 pm

... Elided as irrelevant to the question under consideration.

In scanning Dr. Touchy's diatribe of sound and fury signifying nothing, I note he is simply repeating his claim that you need government to have a limitation on liability, making ad hominem attacks and speculating on my motives and thought processes. "Standing army" my ass! No evidence beyond the bald assertion. Also, I noted that he studiously avoided addressing the Co-op, slip-and-fall, scenario and--most importantly--the arbitration. To wit, would he find for the plaintiff or the defendant... and why? Huh, Touchy? Cue (*Crickets chirping*)


Whether or not a particular arbiter might or might not arrive at a particular finding in a particular case is really not relevant, is it? We're working here on the consideration of a more general guideline for human action in an AnCap society, and the fixation of Counselor Weasel on a hypothetical "slip-and-fall" (while shysterly ignoring what we'll call the "truck-gone-amok" scenario) is a genuine straw man fallacy in flagrante delicto.

Everyone see that? He avoids the questions, about whom he would find for and why. Thus avoiding having to show his "reasoning" on the underlying question. So once again we hear his crickets. Answer the damned question, McFly, or are you chicken?  ;D

My assertion regarding the fact that only by way of government fiat can there be "limited liability" as the concept is understood to exist - and other posters in this forum have expressed their concurrent understanding of this usage - is well-supported and irrefutable.
<emphasis added>

Let's take those one by one. Touchy (maybe a doctor, maybe not) uses the weasel, words, "as the concept is understood to exist," to avoid giving a definition. Cute, intellectually dishonest, but cute. Then he uses the argumentum ad populum, which is okay, I guess, but other posters have also have not agreed with him. Finally, he claims his assertion is "well supported" without actually providing any support and then states that his supposition is "irrefutable." He sounds like the global warming alarmist who claim "consensus" and that there is no doubt about human caused warming. Saying it is so, does not make it so. Plaintiff or Defendant and your "reasoning" as to why? How hard is that?

Is Counselor Weasel really trying to peddle the bloody nonsense that there is some kind of equivalence between obliging those visiting one's property to refrain from some specified action - smoking, spitting, fornicating, leaping up-and-down, juggling gerbils, whatever - and preemptively absolving himself (ex cathedra, perhaps?) of responsibility for injury to other human beings such as might be sustained as the result of that property owner's neglect?

Yup. Any more easy questions? Oh yeah, guess I need to add that my position is "well-supported and irrefutable." If you think that works for you, clearly, it should work for me too, right?  :) ;) :D ;D

May we now begin to infer that Counselor Weasel is suffering from delusions of competence?

Assume what you want, Touchy, but ad hominem is not responsive to the question, now is it?

I have elided several paragraphs in which he is busy avoiding thing about, or replying to, the simple but illustrative arbitration. He touches upon instances that involve individual liability, the doctrine of necessity, his misunderstanding of tort law, including the doctrine of respondeat superior (since he likes Latin), etc. Moving right along:

Tsk. And this is also an example of Counselor Weasel shoving argumentum ad hominem up the reader's nose. 

I'm a writer, not an otolaryngologist, shoving stuff up people's noses is not in my MOS. In any case, the accusation that you are, in effect, a welfare queen--and a hypocritical one at that--is still valid, maybe even "irrefutable."

Your turn.

Tucci78 on May 13, 2011, 05:28:58 pm
Sliding into complete contemptibility, we've got Counselor Scuttling Weasel yet again.

In scanning Dr. Touchy's diatribe of sound and fury signifying nothing, I note he is simply repeating his claim that you need government to have a limitation on liability, making ad hominem attacks and speculating on my motives and thought processes. "Standing army" my ass! No evidence beyond the bald assertion. Also, I noted that he studiously avoided addressing the Co-op, slip-and-fall, scenario and--most importantly--the arbitration. To wit, would he find for the plaintiff or the defendant... and why? Huh, Touchy? Cue (*Crickets chirping*).

Whether or not a particular arbiter might or might not arrive at a particular finding in a particular case is really not relevant, is it? We're working here on the consideration of a more general guideline for human action in an AnCap society, and the fixation of Counselor Weasel on a hypothetical "slip-and-fall" (while shysterly ignoring what we'll call the "truck-gone-amok" scenario) is a genuine straw man fallacy in flagrante delicto.  

Everyone see that? He avoids the questions, about whom he would find for and why. Thus avoiding having to show his "reasoning" on the underlying question. So once again we hear his crickets. Answer the damned question, McFly, or are you chicken?  

Might be nice if Counselor Weasel were to demonstrate where the hell he'd asked a question pertinent to the issue at hand. How the devil can my purely hypothetical determination in a hypothetical particular case on the basis of (let's be charitable) holographic hypothetical "what-if?" information be relevant to what we're discussing?

No real person is actually being called upon to serve as an arbiter in this hypothetical episode, nor is there sufficient information given even to make Counselor Weasel's "slip-and-fall, scenario" a remotely useful hypothetical (were I to take on the responsibility of arbitrage, I'd insist on learning a helluva lot more about the matter than Counselor Weasel was allowing), nor could there be any point to pursuing Counselor Weasel's straw man down the trail blazed by the nitrocellulose dog chasing the asbestos cat through hell.

My assertion regarding the fact that only by way of government fiat can there be "limited liability" as the concept is understood to exist - and other posters in this forum have expressed their concurrent understanding of this usage - is well-supported and irrefutable. <emphasis added>

Let's take those one by one. Touchy (maybe a doctor, maybe not) uses the weasel, words, "as the concept is understood to exist," to avoid giving a definition. Cute, intellectually dishonest, but cute. Then he uses the argumentum ad populum, which is okay, I guess, but other posters have also have not agreed with him. Finally, he claims his assertion is "well supported" without actually providing any support and then states that his supposition is "irrefutable." He sounds like the global warming alarmist who claim "consensus" and that there is no doubt about human caused warming. Saying it is so, does not make it so. Plaintiff or Defendant and your "reasoning" as to why? How hard is that?

Sheesh.  After himself having perpetrated argumentum ad populum in his prior post on this thread ("Remember this is against a background where most posters accept the premise that you can ban smoking on your own property"), Counselor Weasel can't even recognize response in kind.

It isn't really a question of whether he's got his head wedged, but rather how far up there he's wedged it.

The concept of "limited liability" as it pertains to this discussion having been defined over and over again in the various comments posted in the thread from which Counselor Weasel has diverted this discussion - which accounts for my "as the concept is understood to exist" stipulation so as to preserve precision - is of central importance to this exchange.  

Or maybe not.  Looks more like the hot priority here is Counselor Weasel's determination to keep on writhing.  

Counselor Weasel is served notice that he has evaded addressing the potential for one of his hypothetical "limited liability" Farmers' co-op trucks blenderizing a crowd of pedestrians, fixates psychotically upon his "slip-and-fall" in the enter-at-your-own-risk store, and then tries to "blank out" all the prior posts on the "Pedo Bear" thread in which I'd discussed the government thuggery behind "limited liability," including the citation of a column published by writer L. Neil Smith in The Libertarian Enterprise, titled "Corporations, Mercantilism, and Capitalism" (see http://tinyurl.com/4y6y5d8).

Do I need to recapitulate the paragraphs I'd drawn from that brief article - to which Counselor Weasel, please note, made no goddam reply whatsoever - or can we expect Counselor Weasel to display some intellectual integrity and a degree of honesty in this thread?

Hell, no.  Escape From Terra is, after all, science fiction.  Not fantasy.

Is Counselor Weasel really trying to peddle the bloody nonsense that there is some kind of equivalence between obliging those visiting one's property to refrain from some specified action - smoking, spitting, fornicating, leaping up-and-down, juggling gerbils, whatever - and preemptively absolving himself (ex cathedra, perhaps?) of responsibility for injury to other human beings such as might be sustained as the result of that property owner's neglect?

Yup. Any more easy questions? Oh yeah, guess I need to add that my position is "well-supported and irrefutable." If you think that works for you, clearly, it should work for me too, right?

Hey, fine with me.  Counselor Weasel admits that he's pushing bloody nonsense, evades his responsibility to "Answer the damned question," and generally blows chunks all over the place.  

Like I said, I deal with adult patients. They lie all the time.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2011, 06:21:15 pm by Tucci78 »
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

J Thomas on May 13, 2011, 06:17:17 pm
My criteria are:

1. Was someone negligent?
2. Who was negligent?
3. How much were they negligent?

You left out contributory negligence.

I left out the name. But if the victim was negligent, that should be a part of it.

Quote
Sure. You can announce that you claim the right to sodomize at gunpoint anybody who comes onto your property. I wouldn't come onto your property for anything, unless it was to collect my own property that you had stolen, or perhaps to search for my daughter that I had reason to think you had kidnapped. If I have the right to come onto your property (for example to recover my own), then I have the right to do that without following all of your rules.

How about addressing my Co-op arbitration? Assume the facts do not involve sodomy, kidnapping or dandruff. Just accept the facts as stated. Who should win, Plaintiff or Defendant and why?

I answered that at great length before. So instead, I will present an even simpler case which is quite similar to yours.

Two men get into a fight. One of them loses, and then sues the other for crimes against ZAP. Who should win, Plaintiff or Defendant, and why?

Do you believe that from the information you gave, it should cut-and-dried, the same answer every time?

Quote
(BTW, our memories differ, but I don't plan to re-read Harsh Mistress to deal with your BO statement. So I will concede you might be right. If you re-read it, please quote me chapter and verse. Memories are notoriously unreliable.)

You probably remember the novel version. The one I remembered was from the Worlds of If serial. I very much doubt I still have that magazine. Yes, memories are unreliable. I remember being a bit repulsed reading it, when he callously says people with medical conditions should just treat it, when there wasn't a real MD in the whole place. And I remember reading the whole novel later and noting that comment had changed. It's a vivid memory, but even vivid memories can be false.

Tucci78 on May 13, 2011, 06:53:23 pm
Two men get into a fight. One of them loses, and then sues the other for crimes against ZAP. Who should win, Plaintiff or Defendant, and why?

Do you believe that from the information you gave, it should cut-and-dried, the same answer every time?  

Hypothetical cases seem to have value only when they're not stretched too far.  In an earlier post, I'd made mention of a situation in which the honk of a car's horn, not intended to cause injury or even to get the attention of a fellow standing across the street, so startles that person as to induce ventricular fibrillation and death.

I did not try to press for any determination that he driver of the car had been at fault for the other man's death, but only to make it clear that human beings cannot exist in society without inadvertently doing things that affect other people.  Conscious choice, purposeful action, only goes so far to guide each person's interface with other folks, close by and remote.  

With the "Two men get into a fight" scenario as offered, there's simply not enough information provided for anyone to reasonably determine "Who should win...and why?" in any subsequent arbitration.  

You probably remember the novel version [of Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress]. The one I remembered was from the Worlds of If serial. I very much doubt I still have that magazine. Yes, memories are unreliable. I remember being a bit repulsed reading it, when he callously says people with medical conditions should just treat it, when there wasn't a real MD in the whole place. And I remember reading the whole novel later and noting that comment had changed. It's a vivid memory, but even vivid memories can be false.

I had the opportunity to pick up copies of those Worlds of If issues at a convention some decades ago, but failed to do so.  Now you've got me regretting the decision.  Usually, the magazine serial editions contain less than what later appeared in the book publication, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if your memories were correct and Heinlein used the hardback utterance of his novel to make revisions based on feedback he'd gotten (or just his own dissatisfaction with what he'd seen when it appeared in print for the first time).  

In the novel, the only mention of body odor I can find is this, speaking to how the Loonies were fumbling at self-government in the wake of the Warden's ouster:
Quote
I read tax proposals in Lunatic - four sorts of “SingleTaxers" - a cubic tax that would penalize a man if he extended tunnels, a head tax (everybody pay same), income tax (like to see anyone figure income of Davis Family or try to get information out of Mum!), and an “air tax” which as not fees we paid then but something else.

Hadn’t realized “Free Luna” was going to have taxes. Hadn’t had any before and got along. You paid for what you got. Tanstaafl. How else?

Another time some pompous choom proposed that bad breath and body odors be made an elimination offense. Could almost sympathize, having been stuck on occasion in a capsule with such stinks. But doesn’t happen often and tends to be self-correcting; chronic offenders, or unfortunates who can’t correct, aren’t likely to reproduce, seeing how choosy women are.
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

J Thomas on May 13, 2011, 06:59:47 pm

Is Counselor Weasel really trying to peddle the bloody nonsense that there is some kind of equivalence between obliging those visiting one's property to refrain from some specified action - smoking, spitting, fornicating, leaping up-and-down, juggling gerbils, whatever - and preemptively absolving himself (ex cathedra, perhaps?) of responsibility for injury to other human beings such as might be sustained as the result of that property owner's neglect?

Yes. Sandy Sandfort has presented the idea that you can ban anything you want on your own property, and that all property has an owner who has that right. He has not yet suggested any limit whatsoever to that right.

I strongly doubt that this will be a tenable basis to create a society. It does make for a simple legal system, though. Any landowner who wants to, posts a notice that says he makes all the rules. So if neither disputant has escaped his property yet, he can just decide whatever he wants based on whatever he wants to base it on. Or he can decline to judge and throw one or both disputant off his property to settle matters some other way.


Quote
May we now begin to infer that Counselor Weasel is suffering from delusions of competence?

It's possible that if you take a less confrontational style, he might eventually back off too. From past experience I doubt Sandy will take the first move that way.

I would prefer seeing just the arguments. I'm sure there are people who enjoy the vitriol on both sides, but I tend to doubt that they are friends to either of you.

It might be easier if you look at the text you're responding to, and first delete all the insults. Forget them. Just look at the actual arguments. And if you don't find any of those, maybe the comment doesn't need a response after all....

 

anything