SandySandfort on May 20, 2011, 01:55:53 pm
GOOD NEWS FOR MELLYRN!

While doing some research, I came up with a nation without a coercive government (because it has no government at all) that has a court system that enforces its judgments solely by the moral pressure of the community. It also basis its decision on community considerations. I think I will feature it in an upcoming arc. Oh yeah, it has existed for centuries.

Before I give it away, anyone care to take a stab at what the hell I am talking about?  ???

The first correct answer gets to name a character in an upcoming arc. (That's all you get. You release to me all rights over the name and its use in perpetuity--solely for use in ADVENTURES IN HUMAN SPACE and ESCAPE FROM TERRA--and you have to agree to this before I will accept and use the name. My determination as to whom posted the first correct reply, is final. Clear enough for you sea lawyers?)  ::)

Employees and associates of Big Head Press are eligible to post their guesses as well.

Unless someone gets it, I will spill the beans at noon CDT next Friday.

J Thomas on May 20, 2011, 03:16:36 pm

And you want us to agree that the innocent owners should not have to pay. I agree with that. I agree with that even without a limited liability sign.

Cool, but you now have an argument with those who say it takes government action to limit liability.

I don't, but you do. I say, if the arbitrator says that the owners are not liable, then the owners are not liable. If the arbitrator says the owners are liable, then the owners are liable. They agreed to respect his judgement when they chose him.

Reasonable arbitrators will agree with me about which owners are liable and which are not. ;)   (Like the scripture goes, "Everybody I know who's right agrees with me.")

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What about the case where the owners are guilty? Should limited liability also get the owners off scot free then?

Wouldn't that depend on what they were guilty of? If it is decided that you have no liability then you have no liability.

Which is what you say. They put up a sign that said they have no liability, so they have no liability.

I gave an example where some of the owners did something wrong, and the coop did nothing wrong except fail to detect their wrongdoing and sell their tainted meat. The owners did not believe they were doing anything wrong. Should people harmed by this action be able to sue only the innocent coop, and not the farmers who actually did the damage?

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"Scott free" implies getting off for something for which you were liable. So you question is insufficiently specific to permit an answer.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/scot-free
I don't see that the term necessarily implies liability. But perhaps it means that in legal jargon. Anyway, I postulated that the owners were guilty.

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And the coop's net worth is $1 million. Add up the savings everybody gets by dealing with them versus dealing with competitors. Does it come to $2 million? It's possible that they have not in fact done more good than harm.

Not relevant in the slightest. I think there is more good than harm, but the criteria for running a business in a market anarchy is not social benefit or utility.

You pointed out that they were running their business to make money and that they benefit people who like their lower prices. You seemed to be making a social-benefit argument. You say they deserve their money because they earned it, and they don't deserve to lose the money just because they hurt somebody. It's *their* money. A moral argument.

So, they make money by helping a lot of people a little bit, and then they hurt one person a whole lot. They deserve to keep the money they make by helping people, but they don't owe anything for the ones they hurt? As a moral argument this is full of holes. However, we don't need to make a moral argument at all. There's no need for arbitrators in an anarchic system to base anything on morality.

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So then there's Bobby. he has $1000 and a strong young body. If the medical industry will pay, say, $2 million for all his fine young organs, he could pay his debt. Would that be appropriate? The death penalty for a simple mistake? It might be. It depends on how the customs go. (Note some of Larry Niven's stories about thumb-runners etc.)

This is an extreme resolution that would never happen and could never be enforced.

Yes. Bobby cannot pay what he owes, but there is no way to force him to give his assets toward his debts. The most that happens is that people see that he refused to follow the arbitration and they disapprove of him -- hardly something to suicide over.

Or maybe somebody kidnaps him and sells him to the organ banks, and gives the money or part of the money to the LOL? Who would object to that, after arbitration said it was the right thing to do? Well, maybe somebody would object. It's an anarchy after all.

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Killing people who have not violated the ZAP is a violation of the ZAP.

Sure, but in an anarchy people violate ZAP whenever they choose, and they suffer whatever consequences arise from that.

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So I guess an arbiter could suggest that Bobby off himself, but it highly unlikely that Bobby would comply.

This is a situation that perhaps deserves some exploration. I personally do not think that a reasonable arbitrator would declare that result in this case. Bobby does not have the cash on hand to meet his debts. He can earn money and pay off his debt as chance allows, until the LOL dies.

That fits the tort in your comic, right? The perps were sued for damages, and if they had not been trusted to pay the money back as they earned it, they would have been incarcerated and forced to work until it was paid. But Merry paid their debt and they owed her, and she chose to let them work in freedom until they paid her off.

If Bobby looks like he might flee before he pays back his share of the $2 million (which might be the whole thing) then doesn't it make sense to imprison him? Or does that violate ZAP? Is it OK to do it to Merry's henchmen but not him, because they violated ZAP first although they are not being punished for that?

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But wait! How about the store puts up a sign that says they have a maximum $500 limit for any damages paid. Or even $50! Then no matter what happens you can't collect more than $50 from the coop or its employees! Bobby can never have to pay more than $50, and he's home free just like the owners and the coop! Problem solved!

... essentially correct. If you can limit liability to the Co-op, you can limited to $50 or zero, if you wish. We are dealing here with a principle, not a price.

Reductio ad absurdum. If you announce the general principle but there is some price that is obviously wrong, then the general principle is wrong unless it gives a sense of which prices are acceptable.

SandySandfort on May 20, 2011, 08:10:16 pm
Or maybe somebody kidnaps him and sells him to the organ banks, and gives the money or part of the money to the LOL? Who would object to that, after arbitration said it was the right thing to do? Well, maybe somebody would object. It's an anarchy after all.

Just about everybody would object in a society where nearly everyone believes in--or at least govern their behavior--by the ZAP. Your altruistic kidnappers are violating the ZAP, big time. Why is this not clear to you?

Sure, but in an anarchy people violate ZAP whenever they choose, and they suffer whatever consequences arise from that.

Ditto for government law. In either case, criminals get punished. So what's your point? The money derived from parting out Bobby would go to Babby's next of kin in reparation for their loss. The criminals would face extreme damages and worse. The organ bank would be in big trouble for buying stolen property, etc., etc., etc. In other words, this is just another of your silly dandruff fantasies. Please try to stay on point.

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So I guess an arbiter could suggest that Bobby off himself, but it highly unlikely that Bobby would comply.

This is a situation that perhaps deserves some exploration. I personally do not think that a reasonable arbitrator would declare that result in this case. Bobby does not have the cash on hand to meet his debts. He can earn money and pay off his debt as chance allows, until the LOL dies.

What results? You never were specific. Under the ZAP, the arbiter is estopped from ordering a violation of the ZAP and he has no power to enforce such an order if he made it. It would simply be his last day in the arbitration business. The one thing your dandruff examples have in common is people noted for their reason, acting unreasonably. That is special pleading, out the ass.

Of course. That is why your example is another exercise in dandruff irrelevance. So I don't see why it has to be explored one second longer.

That fits the tort in your comic, right? The perps were sued for damages...

What tort? I see no tort in the LEAP OF FAITH arc. What I see is a clear and unambiguous violation of the ZAP.

... and if they had not been trusted to pay the money back as they earned it, they would have been incarcerated and forced to work until it was paid. But Merry paid their debt and they owed her, and she chose to let them work in freedom until they paid her off.

Actually, no. This is not the first time this mistake was made. Merry did not pay their debt. She posted a bond, which she would lose if they skipped. As they worked, they would pay off the judgment creditors. The amount of the bond was never stated, but at the time I wrote it, I thought it should be enough to give Merry a strong incentive to make sure her boys behaved. Given that the damages done were quite extensive, the bond would not be sufficient to cover the entire tab. So the brothers, Reggie and the boat rental guy would all be SOL for anything beyond the bond. Of course, they could always offer a bounty or track the guys down themselves.

If Bobby looks like he might flee before he pays back his share of the $2 million (which might be the whole thing) then doesn't it make sense to imprison him? Or does that violate ZAP?

Yes, but I will leave the answer as to why, as an exercise for the student.

Is it OK to do it to Merry's henchmen but not him, because they violated ZAP first although they are not being punished for that?

Is that your assumption? Interesting.

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Reductio ad absurdum. If you announce the general principle but there is some price that is obviously wrong, then the general principle is wrong unless it gives a sense of which prices are acceptable.

Nope. You can sue the Bishop of Boston for bastardy, but don't expect to win. The principle is sound at any price. What the reductio ad absurdum yields is only the price at which nobody will want to play with you any more.

sam on May 20, 2011, 10:01:35 pm
I say, if the arbitrator says that the owners are not liable, then the owners are not liable. If the arbitrator says the owners are liable, then the owners are liable. They agreed to respect his judgement when they chose him. 
.

Unreasonable arbiters are not going to get much business.  This is analogous to your hypothetical of a mall owner who demands the right arm of all visitors, your hypothetical of the butcher with the sign saying "If you get sick and die from our meat, not our problem", and so on and so forth.

Reasonable arbitrators will agree with me about which owners are liable and which are not. ;)   (Like the scripture goes, "Everybody I know who's right agrees with me.")

I don't think many people would regard you as reasonable.

As I have remarked before, your worldview implies we are all guilty of dreadful crimes, requiring dire punishment, implies that the good, benevolent, and just state needs to execute a large proportion of its population, needs to execute everyone like me, and most people I know. I doubt arbiters with this world view would be popular.

J Thomas on May 21, 2011, 12:10:45 am
I say, if the arbitrator says that the owners are not liable, then the owners are not liable. If the arbitrator says the owners are liable, then the owners are liable. They agreed to respect his judgement when they chose him. 

Unreasonable arbiters are not going to get much business.

Exactly. So people will mostly trust arbitrators to be reasonable. We don't need to pretend we have codified laws that decide ahead of time what arbitrators will choose.

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Reasonable arbitrators will agree with me about which owners are liable and which are not. ;)   (Like the scripture goes, "Everybody I know who's right agrees with me.")

I don't think many people would regard you as reasonable.

 ;) You of course speak for yourself. I think you are at least as far from the norm as I am.

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As I have remarked before, your worldview implies we are all guilty of dreadful crimes, requiring dire punishment, implies that the good, benevolent, and just state needs to execute a large proportion of its population, needs to execute everyone like me, and most people I know.

You wrong me. ;)

But back to the actual discussion.

When the public is pretty much agreed about what's fair, then that's mostly what arbitrators will judge. How could it be otherwise?

When the public is split the arbitrators will be split too, English Common Law or not.

So for example, imagine that the public disagrees about patent protection, as the libertarian community currently does. Jerry invents something. He announces that it's his invention and he'll let other people use it for a fee.

Billy puts up a sign that says he doesn't respect patents, and he starts building copies of Jerry's invention to sell.

Jerry takes Billy to arbitration. Billy realizes that there are enough people who do believe in patents that he doesn't want to just ignore the summons. Now they must agree on an arbitrator.

Billy takes the list of all arbitrators who have ruled in favor of patents, and says he refuses to accept any of them. Jerry takes the list of all arbitrators who have ruled against patents and says he refuses to accept any of those. What we're left with is the arbitrators who have never handled a patent case before, plus possibly arbitrators who have somehow taken more than one patent case and ruled more than one way.

Somehow they do get an arbitrator, Sally, who must decide. If she believes in patents, then she will agree that when Jerry put up a sign that claimed he owned the patent and nobody claimed there was prior invention, that gave Jerry the right to the patent and Billy's sign saying patents don't apply to him was void.

But if she does not believe in patents then she will agree that when Billy put up a sign saying he was not responsible for patent violation, that meant he had the right to violate patents.

Either way, she will probably never be called upon to do another patent case. Because the public disagrees.


But when the public is agreed, then it doesn't go that way. Say that Jerry puts up a sign saying that he has the right to sodomize anybody who comes onto his property. He doesn't get many visitors. Alice does not believe the sign, she thinks it's a joke. She comes onto his property trying to sell girl scout cookies and Jerry sodomizes her. She calls for arbitration.

But the community agrees that landowners have the right to enforce their own rules on their own property. She has a list of arbitrators that she will not accept who have ruled the wrong way on this issue. Jerry does not need a list because nobody has ruled the other way round. She is at a tremendous disadvantage. Not only does she lose the arbitration but pretty much the whole community thinks she got what she deserved. She gets no sympathy.


What if there are extenuating circumstances? What if John Wayne comes onto Jerry's property to warn him about a dangerous radiation leak, when Jerry has all his communication shut down? John is being neighborly. But Jerry does not listen to the warning because he's too busy sodomizing John, and they are both exposed to the radiation. Is Jerry liable this time? Maybe so. Maybe public opinion would split 60:40. If it's 90:10 the arbitrator can pretty safely go with the consensus. At 60:40 he can expect trouble whatever he does. But he can rule against precedent when there are clear extenuating circumstances and when the person he favors is popular while the other is unpopular. No matter what English Common Law says, the actual safe path for an arbitrator depends on the current community standards.


So I say, you can put up a sign to declare yourself not liable for anything you want. Whether it sticks or not depends on the arbitrator. If you don't put up a sign it still depends on the arbitrator.

And yet somehow we are arguing about what the arbitrator ought to do, when in reality his career will depend on how well he matches public opinion in his own community. We don't know what community standards will be like there, unless we assume they will be reasonable people -- which means people who agree with us.

sam on May 21, 2011, 01:47:45 am
As I have remarked before, your worldview implies we are all guilty of dreadful crimes, requiring dire punishment, implies that the good, benevolent, and just state needs to execute a large proportion of its population, needs to execute everyone like me, and most people I know.

You wrong me. ;)

Recall our discussion of China, where you argued that the Chinese were guilty of acts of warlike aggression by selling us good stuff and low prices. This led to our discussion of the Jews.  I said that Hitler's accusations were against the Jews were mighty weak tea. You argued that if the Jews were guilty of the stuff that Hitler said they were, they needed killing.  But most Jews probably were guilty of most of the stuff that Hitler said they were.   And I am quite sure I have done lots more and worse of that sort of stuff than either typical Jews or typical Chinese.

You think that capitalism, or at least unauthorized and unapproved capitalism, is a war crime and crime against humanity, and since everyone practices capitalism, and in a socialist state everyone practices capitalism on the sly

When the public is pretty much agreed about what's fair, then that's mostly what arbitrators will judge. How could it be otherwise?

When the public is split the arbitrators will be split too,

OK, give us a plausible split.  Mall owners are not going to ban people with tattoos, and butchers are not going to put up a sign saying "If our meat poisons you, that is your problem, we are not liable."

People would doubtless be split on whether prostitution should be legal, recreational drugs should be legal, but in such cases there is no complainant willing to pull his gun and risk getting shot to make what he says the law should be stick, so regardless of what arbitrators might say, such laws will not stick, whereas there is a complainant willing to hang a mugger from the lampost and stick a burglar's head on a pike on his front fence, so in such matters what arbitrators say will stick.  The arbitrator's power to coerce only comes from the actual possibility of violence, and in anarchic state, there is no group of men who can safely, easily, and cheaply get away with violence.

So what would people disagree on, that they would be willing to stick their necks out over?

So for example, imagine that the public disagrees about patent protection, as the libertarian community currently does.

A property right in anarchy is only going to stick if it is something you reasonably could and would smack someone around for violating.  If someone burgles me while I am present in my house, one of us will surely die.  If you shoplift from Walmart, Walmart security will grab you in the parking lot, and if you try to leave, they will grab you harder.

No one would do this over a patent, no one would think it right to do this over a patent.

Observe that even with overwhelming state backing, patent is very difficult to enforce.   Even though some libertarians think patent law is just fine and desirable, anarcho capitalists do not, because they believe that even if desirable, it would be a lost cause in anarchy.

A patent lawsuit is basically "I thought of that first".  Firstly no one ever thought of anything first, every idea has a thousand predecessors, a thousand earlier variants, everyone stands on the shoulders of giants, and secondly, regardless of who thought of it first, the guy who ran with the idea and made it profitable should be the one that profits.  But even if you believe that the guy who thought of it first should profit, that is mighty hard to enforce.

But when the public is agreed, then it doesn't go that way. Say that Jerry puts up a sign saying that he has the right to sodomize anybody who comes onto his property.

In anarchy, a lot of people will have signs saying "trespassers will be shot".  I expect that mostly they will get away with shooting trespassers.  In Texas, they usually do.

But the community agrees that landowners have the right to enforce their own rules on their own property. She has a list of arbitrators that she will not accept who have ruled the wrong way on this issue. Jerry does not need a list because nobody has ruled the other way round. She is at a tremendous disadvantage. Not only does she lose the arbitration but pretty much the whole community thinks she got what she deserved. She gets no sympathy.

Sounds like Texas.

What if there are extenuating circumstances? What if John Wayne comes onto Jerry's property to warn him about a dangerous radiation leak, when Jerry has all his communication shut down?

Jerry will not shut down communications.  A "trespassers will be shot sign" usually has a doorbell right beside it.  Again your argument is "Suppose people act really stupid, and we have no good and wise state to make them act sensible."

Most people will not act stupid, and Darwin should take care of those that do act stupid.

J Thomas on May 21, 2011, 08:29:15 am
As I have remarked before, your worldview implies we are all guilty of dreadful crimes, requiring dire punishment, implies that the good, benevolent, and just state needs to execute a large proportion of its population, needs to execute everyone like me, and most people I know.

You wrong me. ;)

Recall our discussion of China, where you argued that the Chinese were guilty of acts of warlike aggression by selling us good stuff and low prices.

I argue that they are behaving like mercantilists. There are people who say that mercantilism hurts only the mercantilists themselves. I disagree, I say that the chinese hurt us too. I'm unclear what response is appropriate. What's your stand on mercantilism?

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This led to our discussion of the Jews.  I said that Hitler's accusations were against the Jews were mighty weak tea. You argued that if the Jews were guilty of the stuff that Hitler said they were, they needed killing.

No, I argue from a position of moral relativism, that the NS views and actions are not qualitatively different from those of many other nations including the USA. We have held moral views which are similar, but we did not take them as far. And part of the reason we did not take them as far was that we were never as desperate. It's partly the desperation that takes the normal disgusting moral views into full scale atrocities.

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And I am quite sure I have done lots more and worse of that sort of stuff than either typical Jews or typical Chinese.

I'm easygoing. Live and let live until I'm too threatened. From what you say you come across as creepy, but I do not consider that my problem.

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You think that capitalism, or at least unauthorized and unapproved capitalism, is a war crime and crime against humanity, and since everyone practices capitalism, and in a socialist state everyone practices capitalism on the sly

I don't know where you come up with these things. I think that capitalist theory as usually stated is kind of inadequate. There are various short circuits available that would let some people manipulate the system to get rich without actually providing anything of value to anyone else, or sometimes by actively harming people. There are various traps that let people think they are doing well, while they in fact are storing up catastrophe that will hit suddenly. When people claim that the theory is flawless I naturally want to point out some of the flaws.

As one example, there is fractional-reserve banking. Many people agree with me that fractional-reserve banking causes problems. Some of them believe that if there was no government, the public would be smart enough not to cater to fractional-reserve bankers and so the problem would disappear. I say that government is not the only thing that gets people to follow their short-run interest and ignore the long run, and that getting rid of the government would not be enough to make people that smart. I'd be glad to be wrong about that....

That there are flaws in the theory that is commonly believed does not at all mean that capitalism in practice is a crime against humanity. In practice it sometimes has very good results. Sometimes things that get called capitalism have rather bad results, and people who want to improve the world can argue about whether the bad stuff is really capitalism or not, and whether the bad stuff under whatever name can be reduced. If they want to improve the world usually they want governments to do it, because the obvious alternative is to get a whole lot of people to act smarter. And they are reasonably sure that won't happen. Of course, getting governments to act smarter and more altruisticly is not real likely either....

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When the public is pretty much agreed about what's fair, then that's mostly what arbitrators will judge. How could it be otherwise?

When the public is split the arbitrators will be split too,

OK, give us a plausible split.  Mall owners are not going to ban people with tattoos, and butchers are not going to put up a sign saying "If our meat poisons you, that is your problem, we are not liable."

Software vendors very often do put up signs saying that their liability is limited to the cost of the software. If you have all your tax information on their accounting software, and a flaw in their software leaves you bankrupt, they will give you your $500 back.

Butchers might quite plausibly put up signs saying their liability is limited to $500 per customer, or whatever. That might seem like a generous liability to their customers. When they do that they are in fact saying "If our meat poisons you, we will give you no more than $500". But their customers assume that the meat will not in fact poison them, as do the butchers themselves. The butchers intend to stay in business, which they cannot do if it becomes known that they poison customers. Almost everybody assumes ahead of time that such things will not happen, and it's only after they do happen that the litigation starts.

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People would doubtless be split on whether prostitution should be legal, recreational drugs should be legal, but in such cases there is no complainant willing to pull his gun and risk getting shot to make what he says the law should be stick, so regardless of what arbitrators might say, such laws will not stick, whereas there is a complainant willing to hang a mugger from the lampost and stick a burglar's head on a pike on his front fence, so in such matters what arbitrators say will stick.  The arbitrator's power to coerce only comes from the actual possibility of violence, and in anarchic state, there is no group of men who can safely, easily, and cheaply get away with violence.

You claim that in muslim societies there are people who are willing to kill over prostitution etc. I say that was true even before muslims had much of a government. This looks to me like a counterexample to your claim.

In the USA, there are people who are willing to kill abortionists, but there is no one ready to kill to save abortion. Individual MDs could of course hire bodyguards who are ready to kill to protect their employers -- people who are ready to kill for money. By your reasoning, abortion could wind up functionally illegal even when the population is split, because of the distribution of violent murderers between the sides.

Others have argued that when there is a consensus, customs can be enforced even without killers doing the enforcing. Somebody gets a bad reputation and lots of people refuse to do business with him -- it gets just too inconvenient to violate expectations. If none of the mall owners will let you onto their property and only one oxygen-seller will sell you oxygen, and that at 5 times the going price, nobody has committed aggression against you -- they have a right to choose their customers. Life is easier when you don't get everybody mad at you. But when there is not a consensus that breaks down.

Your idea that it depends on the most violent ones ... that's interesting. It makes a certain sense that the ones who are most willing to kill and die for their morals, should be the ones who get to decide for everybody. It's certainly true in practice part of the time.

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So for example, imagine that the public disagrees about patent protection, as the libertarian community currently does.

A property right in anarchy is only going to stick if it is something you reasonably could and would smack someone around for violating.  If someone burgles me while I am present in my house, one of us will surely die.  If you shoplift from Walmart, Walmart security will grab you in the parking lot, and if you try to leave, they will grab you harder.

No one would do this over a patent, no one would think it right to do this over a patent.

OK. I picked that example because it's something that I know there's disagreement over. I can imagine that no patent owner would kill over theft of his intellectual property. He'd have to actually believe that his patent was valid and that it was actually his property that was being stolen. Nobody would do that. They'd know they were wrong, because of course nobody really believes in patents. ;)

If I pick something that libertarians and AnCaps agree about, then they will say it's a dandruff issue and that nobody with any sense could ever disagree with them so there cannot be any problem. Can you think of another issue that AnCaps are not 100% united over? I can't think of anything that AnCaps disagree about enough to kill each other about, so I guess there will always be consensus in every future AnCap society about what the laws ought to be.

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Jerry will not shut down communications.  A "trespassers will be shot sign" usually has a doorbell right beside it.  Again your argument is "Suppose people act really stupid, and we have no good and wise state to make them act sensible."

No, I'm not talking about a state. I'm talking about how the arbitration is supposed to work.

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Most people will not act stupid, and Darwin should take care of those that do act stupid.

I run into this argument a lot here. I ask, "How should arbitration handle this situation?". And I hear the answer, "Your example assumes that somebody has done something stupid. But in AnCap nobody will do anything stupid to get arbitrated over."

Doesn't a whole lot of government law actually deal with people who have done something stupid? Is AnCap going to make everybody stop acting stupid? So much that we don't need to arbitrate it?

Maybe, when somebody does something stupid, you should just kill him? And then it turns out he has a stupid  pregnant wife and 6 stupid children, and the arbitrator has to decide how much you have to support them for the next 20 years or so? Is that a smart move on your part?

J Thomas on May 21, 2011, 08:56:12 am

Reductio ad absurdum. If you announce the general principle but there is some price that is obviously wrong, then the general principle is wrong unless it gives a sense of which prices are acceptable.

Nope. You can sue the Bishop of Boston for bastardy, but don't expect to win. The principle is sound at any price. What the reductio ad absurdum yields is only the price at which nobody will want to play with you any more.

So, you can put up a sign that says you are not obligated to pay any debts. If somebody doesn't realise this and sells you something they bill you for, you can tear up the bill with no legal consequences. If they arbitrate for their money, your sign means you don't owe them.

But the reason you don't owe them is that they were stupid enough not to collect their money first, when they should have known that you would not pay. Once word gets around, you will not be able to get a lease to rent property -- but you can probably rent a cubicle where you put the money in the door in advance and when the money runs out the lock stops working. You can't get into a restaurant where they present the bill at the end, but you can go to Macdonalds or equivalent where you pay first. Nobody will extend you the least bit of credit because they know you are not obligated to honor it.

I can imagine that working.

Your own rules are whatever you say they are, provided other people know in advance. You handle whatever consequences come from that. I kind of like it.


Still, in the general case, one counterexample is enough to show a law is bad.

The legal system evolved, mostly before modern times, and evolution is messy.

Imagine a software developer using that approach. "This algorithm works correctly 95% of the time. We won't think about the other 5%, those are hard cases. If we think about the hard cases the runtime will be slower on the easy cases."

Imagine it in business. "Our customer satisfaction rate is 95%. That's plenty. If we catered to difficult customers then it would only encourage them and we'd get more difficult customers. We'll base our practices on sales to easy customers only."

Sure, in practice you will have some failures. But when you build in failure, when you design laws that must fail in some circumstances, you are doing a bad thing.

The major reason this works for government law is that law is a monopoly. So they can get away with it. And still people increasingly choose arbitration when they aren't so angry that they accept the damage they get from government law hoping they can hurt the other guy worse.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 08:58:38 am by J Thomas »

mellyrn on May 21, 2011, 07:23:41 pm
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So, you can put up a sign that says you are not obligated to pay any debts.

I think you'd have to wear it.  You can put up a sign warning of limited liability towards those who enter the premises that the sign marks, but if you don't put it up where they can actually see it, you might as well not bother.  Likewise, if you put up a sign at home saying that you aren't obligated to pay debts, and then try to reference it when you go elsewhere, it ain't gonna wash.

There is probably lawyer language to explain why that is so.

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when you build in failure, when you design laws that must fail in some circumstances, you are doing a bad thing.

Can you show an example of a law that cannot fail?  (Seems to me that "can fail" = "must fail in some circumstances".)  "Law" is here used in reference to human intercourse; "laws" of science need not apply.


sam on May 21, 2011, 09:08:44 pm
So, you can put up a sign that says you are not obligated to pay any debts.

You would have to be wearing it when you tried to borrow money.  Whereupon, you would be unable to borrow money.

Problem solved.

J Thomas on May 22, 2011, 02:29:03 am
So, you can put up a sign that says you are not obligated to pay any debts.

You would have to be wearing it when you tried to borrow money.  Whereupon, you would be unable to borrow money.

Problem solved.

No problem to solve. Perhaps you would have the sign on your website, but the point is that if anybody doesn't notice it can be reasonably said it's their own fault. Like the sign in the store.

J Thomas on May 22, 2011, 03:22:59 am

Quote
when you build in failure, when you design laws that must fail in some circumstances, you are doing a bad thing.

Can you show an example of a law that cannot fail?  (Seems to me that "can fail" = "must fail in some circumstances".)  "Law" is here used in reference to human intercourse; "laws" of science need not apply.

I can explain the idea. First, laws must be interpreted and used by people, and it's always possible for an arbitrator to mess things up. There can be legitimate reasons to set a law aside, and there can be bad reasons to do that. Any time the result is not justice the system has failed some, but that doesn't make the law wrong.

When the law is inconsistent then there will likely be a way to arbitrage it. If the law says that you can't steal from me, but I can steal from you, how much property are you likely to wind up with? I say that in general that sort of law is bad. Make the law consistent, and then depend on individual arbitrators to handle the peculiar edge cases when it seems like it's actually a good thing for me to steal from you.

So for example we have a peculiar idea about "commodities". Any time we consider something unique, then my unique property belongs to me. If you borrow it you're supposed to give it back. But if I borrow a commodity from you, I am only obligated to return the same amount of the same commodity, or perhaps we might agree I owe you something more. And this allows arbitrage.

So, a bank can borrow your money (you "deposit" it) and then lend it to somebody else. The only requirement is that it give you back money when you want it. Under current rules banks need to have on hand about 0.5% of the money they owe people, because nobody but drug dealers etc actually take out much cash.

A stockbroker can borrow the stock you bought (you leave the stock with him, and it's inconvenient not to). He can sell it which helps to keep the price low, while you bought it hoping the price would go up. He can invest the money, or buy stock he will then try to sell to customers. His only obligation to you is that when you do want to sell it, he has to have some stock on hand he can sell for you. Just like the bank, except a bit riskier for the stockbroker because if he sells a lot of stock and the price goes up anyway, he loses money.

A wheat broker can sell your wheat. He loses money if the price has risen when you want to sell. This one is institutionalised as the commodity options market -- anybody can sell wheat they don't own, hoping the price will go down, or buy the right to wheat at a set price, hoping the price will go up.

If we treated automobiles as a commodity, then when you put your car in a parking garage, the garage owner could rent it out as long as he still has a car when you come back and want one.

If jewelry was a commodity, then when you put your jewelry in a safe deposit box the bank could sell it. As long as they could produce equivalent jewelry when you wanted it, they would be fine. Gold is a commodity, so you can buy gold from a gold dealer who stores it for you, and then you can buy and sell gold to your heart's content, and the gold dealer doesn't have to actually have your gold. All he has to have is the cash you will want if you decide to cash in.

We have a loophole in the law, where sometimes theft of commodities is not legally theft. If we were to close that loophole then we could still work out ways to share unused resources, but without the special arbitrage. You could if you wanted make an agreement with the garage that they can rent out your car between 8 AM and 5 PM, for some price. You get some money, they get to charge for more cars than they actually have storage space for, everybody knows what they're getting in to.

I can't give you an example of a law which cannot fail, any more than I can give you an example of a nontrivial computer program which has no bugs. I can give examples of laws which are designed to fail in some circumstances. I can give you examples of lawyers who say that "hard cases make bad law" meaning that they know about buggy laws and they say that's how it ought to be. I don't have any examples of software developers who say that buggy programs should not be fixed because "hard test cases make bad programs".

sam on May 22, 2011, 06:09:59 am
give us a plausible split.  Mall owners are not going to ban people with tattoos, and butchers are not going to put up a sign saying "If our meat poisons you, that is your problem, we are not liable."

Software vendors very often do put up signs saying that their liability is limited to the cost of the software.

I am more willing to buy software that might poison my computer, than food that might poison me.  I have a backup of my data.  I don't have a backup of me.

If you have all your tax information on their accounting software, and a flaw in their software leaves you bankrupt, they will give you your $500 back.

A flaw in their software will not leave you bankrupt.  If your tax bill looks grossly wrong, you are going to sanity check it.  If it could leave you bankrupt, you would be more alarmed by the disclaimer, just as you would be more alarmed by the butcher's disclaimer.

Butchers might quite plausibly put up signs saying their liability is limited to $500 per customer, or whatever.

Not plausible at all.

People would doubtless be split on whether prostitution should be legal, recreational drugs should be legal, but in such cases there is no complainant willing to pull his gun and risk getting shot to make what he says the law should be stick, so regardless of what arbitrators might say, such laws will not stick, whereas there is a complainant willing to hang a mugger from the lampost and stick a burglar's head on a pike on his front fence, so in such matters what arbitrators say will stick.  The arbitrator's power to coerce only comes from the actual possibility of violence, and in anarchic state, there is no group of men who can safely, easily, and cheaply get away with violence.

You claim that in muslim societies there are people who are willing to kill over prostitution etc.

No, they are willing to kill to make Muslims supreme over infidels and willing to kill to control female sexuality within  their family.  They are not willing to kill to control female sexuality in someone else's family.

In the USA, there are people who are willing to kill abortionists, but there is no one ready to kill to save abortion.[/quote]

If that was the case, then in an anarchic society, abortion would be illegal, but I observe the reverse - that violence against abortion doctors is so rare as to be entirely insignificant, whereas merely protesting peacefully against abortion is apt to result in violence against the protestors - because those seeking abortion, and those providing it, have compelling reasons of self interest to suppress protest, whereas those opposing abortion have merely altruistic reasons to protest, and so seldom do very much.  Indeed the frequency of violence against anti abortion protestors, and the rarity of violence against abortion doctors, leads me to the conclusion that in anarchic society, not only abortion but also infanticide would be legal, and we might well get the situation of the Roman Republic, where the patriarch could execute any dependent member of his household

Others have argued that when there is a consensus, customs can be enforced even without killers doing the enforcing.

Doubtless with an anti alcohol consensus, we could bust people who get falling down drunk in the streets, but not those who get falling down drunk in their homes. Similarly, probably could suppress streetwalkers but not brothels.

Your idea that it depends on the most violent ones ... that's interesting. It makes a certain sense that the ones who are most willing to kill and die for their morals,

Those willing to kill and die to control the drug consumption of some stranger far away are rather few.  Those willing to use violence to protect their right consume their drugs of choice are many.

So for example, imagine that the public disagrees about patent protection, as the libertarian community currently does.

A property right in anarchy is only going to stick if it is something you reasonably could and would smack someone around for violating.  If someone burgles me while I am present in my house, one of us will surely die.  If you shoplift from Walmart, Walmart security will grab you in the parking lot, and if you try to leave, they will grab you harder.

No one would do this over a patent, no one would think it right to do this over a patent.

OK. I picked that example because it's something that I know there's disagreement over. I can imagine that no patent owner would kill over theft of his intellectual property. He'd have to actually believe that his patent was valid and that it was actually his property that was being stolen. Nobody would do that. They'd know they were wrong, because of course nobody really believes in patents. ;)

Nobody really believes in patents in their guts, the way they believe in their guts that their land is their own.  A dog will attack you for treading on his master's land.  The dog will not attack you for imitating his master's intellectual property.  If you trespass on his land, the master and the dog will both snarl at you in much the same fashion.  You won't get that reaction from either one for intellectual property.

Can you think of another issue that AnCaps are not 100% united over?

Lots of things.  I think an anarcho capitalist society could and should produce a lot more violence than Sandy thinks it should.

Sandy thinks that infanticide would be suppressed by charitable organizations.  I say that if something needs charity to suppress it, it will not be much suppressed.  I just cannot see charitable organizations toting guns and facing bullets on behalf of strangers to whom they owe nothing.  But if charitable organizations would tote guns and face bullets, then you could get quite a bit of violence on these issues.

I think Sandy's society has more compliance than is plausible, and less violence than is plausible.  You could not get that much nice guy progressivism, without the sort of violence that the progressive state deploys, which violence would have to be applied by charitable organizations.  Assuming the existence of his violent charitable organizations, they would likely have extensive disagreements as to what charitable acts are actually charitable.

I run into this argument a lot here. I ask, "How should arbitration handle this situation?". And I hear the answer, "Your example assumes that somebody has done something stupid. But in AnCap nobody will do anything stupid to get arbitrated over."

They will get Darwin as their abitrator.

Doesn't a whole lot of government law actually deal with people who have done something stupid?

No.

J Thomas on May 22, 2011, 09:52:19 am

Doesn't a whole lot of government law actually deal with people who have done something stupid?

No.

Did I phrase that wrong? Did you object to "deal with" instead of "involve"?

What kind of law have you done, that you would claim it's mostly smart people as victims, smart people as perps, smart people as plaintiffs and smart people as defendants?

sam on May 22, 2011, 03:47:01 pm
Doesn't a whole lot of government law actually deal with people who have done something stupid?

No.

Did I phrase that wrong? Did you object to "deal with" instead of "involve"?

If someone gets caught, he was probably stupid, just as if someone gets drunk and falls off a cliff he was probably stupid, but there is nothing inherently stupid about breaking government legislation - indeed, we have so many laws that everyone necessarily breaks them all the time.  If all laws were suddenly enforced fully and effectively tomorrow, the average honest respectable middle class businessman would probably be facing several hundred years worth of felony offenses.

That people who get in trouble for breaking government legislation tend to be stupid no more means that government law addresses stupidity than that people who get in trouble as a result of the law of gravity tend to be stupid means that the law of gravity addresses stupidity.