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Should Inheritance be Abolished...?

inheritance dynasty accumulation moral economic family parents

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129 replies to this topic

#106
Alan Chapman

Alan Chapman
  • 5155 posts

RestoringGuy, suppose you made your intentions known in advance that you intend to disregard a person's wishes (stipulated in a will) and to help yourself to whatever a decedent leaves behind. What sort of incentive do you think that would create for people while they're alive and how do you think that they would alter their behavior? What do you think the consequences would be?

 

People make conscious, lifestyle choices during their lives which may last for years and decades. Knowing in advance that their wishes will not be respected after death will vastly alter those choices, quite possibly to the detriment of society. They might be incentivized to consume everything while living and leave nothing.


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#107
st434u

st434u
  • 369 posts

Inheritance still does not work, as contract or not.  Suppose you find an eighty-thousand-year-old chiseled stone from an extinct race of hominids that allocates earth's resources in some definable way that literally pertains to whatever is still around (our species).

 

These are the types of problems you run into when your focus is solely on what's moral and you forget what's practical/utilitarian.

 

A world without inheritance is a world without civilization.

 

If something makes sense to you morally, but the universal application would cause massive chaos and destruction, something is wrong with your system of morals, even if it's the most internally consistent one.


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#108
cobra2411

cobra2411
  • 195 posts

Inheritance still does not work, as contract or not.  Suppose you find an eighty-thousand-year-old chiseled stone from an extinct race of hominids that allocates earth's resources in some definable way that literally pertains to whatever is still around (our species).  Did this stone document self-execute before your species did?  Maybe defenders of inheritance are saying eight-second-old wills get preference over the wills of various conquered ancestors.

You are intentionally trying to make this difficult. We're not talking about trying to figure out something that happened 80k years ago. We're talking 80 years at most, and in most cases wills are less than 10 years old and there are usually people alive with first hand knowledge of the people involved. 

 

If I call my friend Steve and say "Hey, can you be the executor of my will and follow the instructions?" and he says yes, that's a verbal contract between me and Steve to handle my affairs. It's further backed up with a written will. 

 

The question that I haven't seen you answer is this: If two people enter a contract where each has specific tasks to complete and one of them dies, does that invalidate the contract and morally absolve the living person from their obligation? The answer, if we live in a moral and ethical world has to be no, death does not absolve the moral responsibility of the remaining partner. And if that's the case then inheritance is valid as I can contract with someone to dispose of my stuff after I die. Forget the will/contract issue for a moment because even if a will isn't valid, I can always create a contract with someone to accomplish the same thing.

 

I haven't even touched on the idea of trusts as I've yet to think about how they would function in a stateless society, but in today's society a trust gets all around the issues you raise about loosing the ability to control property after you die. When I create and fill a trust I'm moving my possessions into right then and there. I now have no possessions - the trust has them. It doesn't matter when I die because the trust is setup with trustee's and beneficiaries to manage everything. 

 

So answer this question if you can - does the death of one party of a contract morally absolve the remaining party. 


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-=David=-


#109
dsayers

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These are the types of problems you run into when your focus is solely on what's moral and you forget what's practical/utilitarian.

 

...

 

If something makes sense to you morally, but the universal application would cause massive chaos and destruction, something is wrong with your system of morals, even if it's the most internally consistent one.

 

I strongly disagree with these items. First of all, practicality and utility are some of the ways demagogues are able to bypass moral consideration and unleash the worst aggressions in the world. There is no consideration more important that the moral one, which is not subjective by the way. Something that could be described as causing massive chaos and destruction could not also be described as moral.


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#110
cab21

cab21
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someone could die without assests in a bank or investement, but i don't think someone is going to die without real estate or material possesions. the person is still going to have a car and house and other property that the ownership gets transfered to as the will indicates, and not to the first person that murders or raids property to see if someone if dead or alive.


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#111
Magnus

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You are intentionally trying to make this difficult. We're not talking about trying to figure out something that happened 80k years ago. We're talking 80 years at most, and in most cases wills are less than 10 years old and there are usually people alive with first hand knowledge of the people involved. 

 

If I call my friend Steve and say "Hey, can you be the executor of my will and follow the instructions?" and he says yes, that's a verbal contract between me and Steve to handle my affairs. It's further backed up with a written will. 

 

The question that I haven't seen you answer is this: If two people enter a contract where each has specific tasks to complete and one of them dies, does that invalidate the contract and morally absolve the living person from their obligation? The answer, if we live in a moral and ethical world has to be no, death does not absolve the moral responsibility of the remaining partner. And if that's the case then inheritance is valid as I can contract with someone to dispose of my stuff after I die. Forget the will/contract issue for a moment because even if a will isn't valid, I can always create a contract with someone to accomplish the same thing.

 

I haven't even touched on the idea of trusts as I've yet to think about how they would function in a stateless society, but in today's society a trust gets all around the issues you raise about loosing the ability to control property after you die. When I create and fill a trust I'm moving my possessions into right then and there. I now have no possessions - the trust has them. It doesn't matter when I die because the trust is setup with trustee's and beneficiaries to manage everything. 

 

So answer this question if you can - does the death of one party of a contract morally absolve the remaining party. 

 

The important relationship is between the testator and the beneficiaries, not between the testator and the executor.  It is not the executor who disposes of the property after the testator dies.  It is the testator himself who gives away the property.  The property belongs to the recipients, immediately upon death of the testator (which is the moment when the gift becomes effective).  The testator's role is merely to be the intermediary of this transfer -- his role is purely administrative -- he gathers and inventories the property, reviews the documents, ensures the will is valid and clear, pays the debts of the deceased (if any), and delivers the property to their new owners. 

 

But the actual transfer of rights in the property goes directly from the testator to the beneficiary.  The contract that the testator might have with some particular executor is immaterial. What if the executor dies first?  What if he breaches his obligation?  Does that mean that the beneficiaries own nothing, because the executor didn't give it to them?  That can't be right.  They are the new owners of the property, even if it hasn't been delivered to them yet.  Anyone can serve in the role of executor, and the transfer of property occurs regardless of whether he had any relationship with the deceased at all during his lifetime.  The transition can be handled by any competent person, since he's just the intermediary -- a glorified postman or bank teller who delivers property from one owner to another. 


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"The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime."


-- Max Stirner


#112
st434u

st434u
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I strongly disagree with these items. First of all, practicality and utility are some of the ways demagogues are able to bypass moral consideration and unleash the worst aggressions in the world. There is no consideration more important that the moral one, which is not subjective by the way. Something that could be described as causing massive chaos and destruction could not also be described as moral.

 

Are you really saying that moral arguments have not been used to unleash the worst aggressions in the history of the world?

 

If something leads to aggression and chaos, then it's obviously not practical or utilitarian. It's a lot harder to determine what is moral and what isn't; since most people have roughly the same ideas of what end goals are practical/utilitarian, but they have completely different ideas of what's moral and immoral.


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#113
RestoringGuy

RestoringGuy
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If you have the right to give away your property while you're on your deathbed, as it were, why is it wrongful or invalid to plan your deathbed gifts ahead of time? When you're still healthy and conscious? After all, death might occur in a way that doesn't give you time to make your property wishes known.

A will is not a dead artifact. It's an act of property transfer that was made while someone is alive, with the idea that the transfers are completed as he is dying. If you respect property rights, I don't see why you'd reject property being transferred via a will.

It's because I think respect of property in the moral sense requires some agreement, and there are times agreement has no meaning.  It's consciousness that seems to give agreement any meaning. I do not know what an act of property transfer is aside from either physical grasp or some mutually agreed substitute.  Basically I do not outright reject property being transferred via a will, but I reject it being identified as "property" much as the state cannot own the earth.  A pile of compost might have once constituted a thinking being.  Maybe a will is a tape recording or other artifact, but it's dead matter.  It does not prove transfer takes place as somebody dies, because who is the pre-transfer owner?  You have to refer to dead artifact, and then find out that person (as a rational agent) is simply not present.  The compost pile's words may have residue of truth, but only the living can decide that.  If they once wrote "2+2=4", we can carry out a testing process to distinguish the eternal truth from what's made-up.  If they wrote "I transfer this", there's no way to check it by rational thought.  Like the Bible, you can check that it was written, but you cannot check that what was written remains true today.

 

You are intentionally trying to make this difficult. We're not talking about trying to figure out something that happened 80k years ago. We're talking 80 years at most, and in most cases wills are less than 10 years old and there are usually people alive with first hand knowledge of the people involved. 

 

The question that I haven't seen you answer is this: If two people enter a contract where each has specific tasks to complete and one of them dies, does that invalidate the contract and morally absolve the living person from their obligation?

I am not trying to make it difficult.  In fact, I think accepting inheritance is making difficulty, because it seems to import the idea from statism without logical review.  Anarchocaptialism rightly moves the moral ground from state institutions to individual rational ethics.  But then it unquestioningly accepts that dead people still have a say, effectively keeping a state religion.

 

If there's a contract between two people and one of them dies, there are two answers.  (1) If the contract is between two people and no more, then yes I imagine they are morally absolved, at least reverting to a status as if a contract did not exist.  (2) But if there's a third party on the contract, the two surviving parties might still be obligated to one another.  You could set up a will to give your property to someone,  but you should also have agreement with the finder of the stuff to ensure they will convey the goods as directed.  That's agreement between the heir and the finder, and not you.  For property, the idea that trusts or contracts possess truth in themselves, aside from living people using them simply as persuasion, is almost impossible to maintain.  If the words are valid because they are signed, I could write a promise that pre-repudiates my future written promises and then take out a loan.


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#114
Magnus

Magnus

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It's because I think respect of property in the moral sense requires some agreement, and there are times agreement has no meaning.  It's consciousness that seems to give agreement any meaning. I do not know what an act of property transfer is aside from either physical grasp or some mutually agreed substitute.  Basically I do not outright reject property being transferred via a will, but I reject it being identified as "property" much as the state cannot own the earth.  A pile of compost might have once constituted a thinking being.  Maybe a will is a tape recording or other artifact, but it's dead matter.  It does not prove transfer takes place as somebody dies, because who is the pre-transfer owner?  You have to refer to dead artifact, and then find out that person (as a rational agent) is simply not present.  The compost pile's words may have residue of truth, but only the living can decide that.  If they once wrote "2+2=4", we can carry out a testing process to distinguish the eternal truth from what's made-up.  If they wrote "I transfer this", there's no way to check it by rational thought.  Like the Bible, you can check that it was written, but you cannot check that what was written remains true today.

 

 

Agreement is not the basis of property.  Property comes before agreements.  In fact, property MUST come first, because agreement (i.e., a contract) is essentially a set of mutual promises to trade property rights -- If you do X with your property, then I'll do Y with my property. 

 

Property that is based on mutual agreement is just another way of saying "social contract" -- you are essentially saying that property rights amount to: "You get to keep exclusive possession of your stuff only for as long as I agree not to take it from you."

 

That is the State in a nutshell.  The bedrock beneath the Statists' claim is that "we" get to define what property is, what part of it you get to keep, how much of it you owe, and how you're going to hand it over. 

 

Property does not arise by agreement, any more than the prohibition against murder arises by agreement.  It's just wrong, no matter what you agree to. 

 

A "property rights transfer" is consent.  It's entirely mental -- a matter of pure intention.  It's the difference between sex and rape.  It's the difference between abandonment of property and theft.  It's the difference between slavery and employment.

 

Property is transferred by pure intention, but that intention must be manifest in some observable way, so that others know what your intentions are.  That can be any form of communication (even silence, in the proper context), or through non-verbal behavior.  Property is transferred by pure mental decision, but that decision must (of course), by necessity, be deciphered by referring to some observable words or actions, or else no one can know what you intend.

 

Proving the intentions of a now-dead person can be difficult, of course.  That's why the common law made all those (admittedly arbitrary) rules about what constitutes "proof."  In wills, that's why the call the process of identifying and certifying a dead person's will "probate," which is just an old fashioned word for "prove."  The objective is to prove (or disprove) that the document is a true, reliable expression of the deceased's intent, which is a lot easier to do if it conforms to some basic formalities, like being signed, dated, having 2 witnesses, etc.

 

But the deceased's intentions can be deciphered in other ways, even if there is no formal will.  Any letters he might have written, statements made to third parties, even a video or a set of tweets.  Yes, reviewing all of that stuff is something of a matter of interpretation, but the point of the process is to arrive at an evidence-based conclusion about what the deceased most likely decided, as to the disposition of his property upon death. 

 

That conclusion might not be perfect, but it doesn't have to be perfect.  It only needs to be better than all of the other conclusions about what the deceased wanted. 

 

In order to respect property, you have to respect people's consent, intentions and wishes about their stuff.  Property is a universal, objective ethical right, regardless of what other people might agree to.  Otherwise, social life is just a free-for-all of Might Makes Right.


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"The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime."


-- Max Stirner


#115
dsayers

dsayers

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  • 2226 posts

It's a lot harder to determine what is moral and what isn't

 

I had just pointed out that morality isn't subjective. Continuing on as if this wasn't said isn't productive.

 

You own yourself. People are not fundamentally different in a way that this wouldn't be true of everybody, so everybody owns themselves. If everybody owns themselves, then theft, assault, rape, and murder are immoral as they require exercising ownership over that which is owned by somebody else.

 

Put simply: theft, assault, rape, and murder are immoral. The end. Not hard to determine at all.

 

As I pointed out before, what you're talking about isn't morality. When somebody says, "I'm okay with guys pointing guns at my neighbors' heads and pretending to give the money they steal to the poor," it is not a moral endeavor even though it pretends to be one. So...

 

Are you really saying that moral arguments have not been used to unleash the worst aggressions in the history of the world?

 

Yes I am. Aggression is immoral. They are not incompatible. You now know the logic behind this. If you could make a case to the contrary, it would be more useful than simply repeating yourself in the face of a challenge.


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#116
st434u

st434u
  • 369 posts

I had just pointed out that morality isn't subjective. Continuing on as if this wasn't said isn't productive.

Astrophysics isn't subjective. That doesn't mean that it's easy to figure out how planets, stars, galaxies and black holes function. Obviously the person I was responding to has a different understanding of what's moral than you or I.  

Yes I am. Aggression is immoral. They are not incompatible. You now know the logic behind this. If you could make a case to the contrary, it would be more useful than simply repeating yourself in the face of a challenge.

Just because aggression is immoral doesn't mean people don't use moral arguments to justify aggression. I can show a thousand examples of what I said. Take just about any major war in the history of humanity, and it was justified mainly using moral arguments.
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#117
dsayers

dsayers

    collateral damage

  • 2226 posts

I can show a thousand examples of what I said.

 

One will suffice. I anticipate that like I've already said twice, that it wasn't moral. Also, if somebody has a hard time figuring out what morality is, I don't think that perpetuating the idea that it is subjective (or difficult) is very responsible. The correction should've been foreseen rather than resisted.


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#118
st434u

st434u
  • 369 posts

The US entered World War II because "The Axis Powers are evil, so the moral thing to do is to go and kill them."

 

I didn't say the arguments were sound, but they were moral arguments nonetheless, and that was my point.

 

You were saying that focusing on what's practical or utilitarian is a problem because some people use arguments of that nature to justify aggression. My counter-argument was that moral arguments are far more often used to justify large aggressions.

 

Of course in both cases the arguments can be shown to be wrong, but that's besides the point.


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#119
dsayers

dsayers

    collateral damage

  • 2226 posts

You were saying that focusing on what's practical or utilitarian is a problem because some people use arguments of that nature to justify aggression. My counter-argument was that moral arguments are far more often used to justify large aggressions.

 

To which I added the challenge that what you're referring to are not moral arguments. Observe...

 

The US entered World War II because "The Axis Powers are evil, so the moral thing to do is to go and kill them."

 

That quote is immoral as early as "The US." Country is an immoral concept. It claims ownership over people and their property.

 

The only difficulty in ascertaining this immorality is the amount of propaganda that goes into trying to legitimize the concept of "country." This usually only succeeds in the realm of no critical thinking or moral consideration. The moment moral consideration is on the table, the immorality of that supposedly immoral claim isn't difficult at all.

 

Of course in both cases the arguments can be shown to be wrong, but that's besides the point.

 

I disagree. If I understand you rightly, you are saying that because some people abuse the moral consideration, it is inherently uninmportant. I would argue that the abuse of the word "moral" throughout history makes moral clarity that much more important.


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#120
st434u

st434u
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I didn't say the argument was moral, I said it was a moral argument.


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#121
dsayers

dsayers

    collateral damage

  • 2226 posts

Do you still feel that way now despite the logical challenge that has been offered?


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Providing value doesn't justify providing anti-value. I won't pay to be censored.


#122
st434u

st434u
  • 369 posts

Of course. You keep missing the point entirely. Just because a statement is wrong doesn't mean the category ceases to exist. You might as well be saying that "2 + 2 = 5" is not a mathematical statement.

 

But of course, in your original objection, you were saying that arguments from practicality and utilitarianism have been used to justify the worst aggressions in history, but clearly these arguments can't be correct.

 

So which is it? You can't have it both ways.


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#123
RestoringGuy

RestoringGuy
  • 1054 posts

People make conscious, lifestyle choices during their lives which may last for years and decades. Knowing in advance that their wishes will not be respected after death will vastly alter those choices, quite possibly to the detriment of society. They might be incentivized to consume everything while living and leave nothing.

Yes that seems like good reason to choose to institute some form of inheritance as opposed to none at all.  But the causal argument of society is insufficient to mark it as ethically absolute in the same way non-aggression is applied.  Sure it's reason refute the collectivist argument that everybody inherits everything equally.  But not enough to prove (either causally or by way of direct non-aggression principles) that the dead's wishes are best for society and/or sustained by non-aggressive principles (we aggess against the dead or assumed rights an heir identifiable only by cultural convention).  There's a moderately compelling argument for non-physical ownership of physical goods, based on logical inconsistency of a thief who wants to keep what is taken whenever they leave their house, but that does not seem to show the good's existence or the finder's good fortune is owed to a dead person anticipating hereditary ownership.


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#124
RestoringGuy

RestoringGuy
  • 1054 posts

Agreement is not the basis of property.  Property comes before agreements.  In fact, property MUST come first, because agreement (i.e., a contract) is essentially a set of mutual promises to trade property rights -- If you do X with your property, then I'll do Y with my property. 

 

Property that is based on mutual agreement is just another way of saying "social contract" -- you are essentially saying that property rights amount to: "You get to keep exclusive possession of your stuff only for as long as I agree not to take it from you."

 

That is the State in a nutshell.  The bedrock beneath the Statists' claim is that "we" get to define what property is, what part of it you get to keep, how much of it you owe, and how you're going to hand it over.

I'll argue something different, and suggest agreements must come first.  You're right concerning property in your possession.  You maybe use the word Possession maybe in a different way than I do, and I am not essentially saying what you rephased because of this misunderstanding of the word "possess".  Once you want me to respect a piece of paper without my agreement whatsoever, and it pertains to something you do not possess in reality, you go beyond first-principles and employ culture.  I think the progression of enablement is:

Life -> Consciousness -> Agreement -> Absentee Ownership.

 

"Property comes first" I think is closer to the State in a nutshell, because the State claims to decide property rights without our consent.  They start out with property being controllable by them, as opposed to finding mutual agreement.  If I accept that property rights come before my agreement, the State can own the earth, having been here before I was, making us all conditionally-bound renters of not just property, but labor on property they conditioned by contract I did not consent to.  I think inheritance is a similar idea running into similar contradiction, that inheritors try invent agreement from those who didn't.


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#125
cobra2411

cobra2411
  • 195 posts

If there's a contract between two people and one of them dies, there are two answers.  (1) If the contract is between two people and no more, then yes I imagine they are morally absolved, at least reverting to a status as if a contract did not exist.  (2) But if there's a third party on the contract, the two surviving parties might still be obligated to one another.  You could set up a will to give your property to someone,  but you should also have agreement with the finder of the stuff to ensure they will convey the goods as directed.  That's agreement between the heir and the finder, and not you.  For property, the idea that trusts or contracts possess truth in themselves, aside from living people using them simply as persuasion, is almost impossible to maintain.  If the words are valid because they are signed, I could write a promise that pre-repudiates my future written promises and then take out a loan.

Signatures only validate that they are your words and not anyone else's. If the contracts void each other or otherwise contradict that's a separate issue. If you signed a contract pre-repudiating future contracts and took out a loan you'd be acting in bad faith. 

 

Now, back to the contract and a party dying as I feel you're not understanding my question or are intentionally trying to distort it. Lets setup a scenario: Steve contracts with John to perform a task. Steve completes his obligations under the contract and later dies. John still has obligations to complete under the contract and Steve's death in no way hinders him. Is John morally absolved from his obligation to Steve now that Steve is dead? Answers of who cares, it doesn't matter and who would know are invalid because they are immoral. If I take a piece of candy from a store, answering who cares, it doesn't matter or who would know does not make theft in this case moral. 

 

If John is obligated to Steve, then the whole concept of inheritance is valid as contracts survive death. I am not discussing the possible difficulties, just the most basic, fundamental idea of contracts, et. al. surviving death and following on to their completion. As has been discussed the living have property rights and contracts are simply exchanges of property between parties. In most cases that's money for services, which simplified is my time for your time. In the above scenario Steve contracted with John to trade property owned by each - most simply, time. Steve traded his time, most likely in the form of money - a store of past productivity, to John. If Steve was living there would be no moral argument as he has completed his side of the bargain. The $64k question is if Steve dies after he completes his part of the bargain is John morally absolved from his. I say no based on my logical argument and others logical arguments listed above. 

 

 

 

[color=rgb(90,90,90);font-family:Verdana, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;background-color:rgb(251,253,254)]"Property comes first" I think is closer to the State in a nutshell, because the State claims to decide property rights without our consent.[/color]

Property is that which is had by or belongs to/with something, whether as an attribute or a component. That's a clear definition. My body has specific attributes, as do all human bodies. Since no one else has direct control of my body I will say it belongs to me. Therefore, my body is my property. This argument isn't valid only if the state exists, actually it's valid in spite of the state existing. Property rights exists; they are an inherent part of being human and they do not originate from the state. The state can only respect those rights or not. So arguing that the state created property rights is false. 


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-=David=-


#126
Magnus

Magnus

    Subversive

  • 953 posts

I'll argue something different, and suggest agreements must come first.  You're right concerning property in your possession.  You maybe use the word Possession maybe in a different way than I do, and I am not essentially saying what you rephased because of this misunderstanding of the word "possess".  Once you want me to respect a piece of paper without my agreement whatsoever, and it pertains to something you do not possess in reality, you go beyond first-principles and employ culture.  I think the progression of enablement is:

Life -> Consciousness -> Agreement -> Absentee Ownership.

 

"Property comes first" I think is closer to the State in a nutshell, because the State claims to decide property rights without our consent.  They start out with property being controllable by them, as opposed to finding mutual agreement.  If I accept that property rights come before my agreement, the State can own the earth, having been here before I was, making us all conditionally-bound renters of not just property, but labor on property they conditioned by contract I did not consent to.  I think inheritance is a similar idea running into similar contradiction, that inheritors try invent agreement from those who didn't.

 

What do you think possession is? 

 

Do we have property rights only in the things we are actively touching?  With skin-contact?  Touched in the last 5 minutes? 

 

As for "property comes first" being a Statist concept, that is incorrect.  First of all, to be clear, there is no State -- it's not a thing.  Statism is a purported set of justifications for a certain group's exemption from the ordinary rules of ethics.  Therefore, once we fully accept the proposition that there are no exceptions to ethical rules for a particular group, it is easy to understand that the State is an organization that exists to violate people's rights.

 

The fact that these people who call themselves "the State" go around violating people's rights in property all day, every day, in no way explains the relationship between property and contracts.  Their claims to property do not define property rights.  Logic and reason define property. 

 

Property comes before agreement because each of us owns himself.  This is a tautology.  It's self-evident.  Then, we use our bodies to control various objects in the world.  Objects are rivalrous, in the sense that two people cannot use an object for different purposes at the same time.  Someone's use of a desired object must be either superior or inferior to other people's competing desired uses.  Someone must have priority, ultimately, to resolve this conflict.  Property is merely a set of ethical rules as to the priority of the use of objects.  The term "owner" is a shorthand way of saying that person's claim to the exclusive use of something is superior to all other contemplated claims of all other people.

 

Possession is just one form of property right.  You can own a house and rent it out.  The renter has a right of possession, but not ownership.  Sometimes that right of possession is limited in time (a year).  Sometimes it is for the possessor's lifetime (e.g., a "life estate").  Sometimes it's dependent on other conditions.  But regardless of the means by which someone acquires a right of possession, it just means that you have the right to a limited set of uses of something for a limited amount of time.

 

The right of ownership includes the right of possession, by default, unless possession is separated from it. 

 

Inheritors do not try to invent agreement.  They are given property rights to a thing by its prior owner, by his express act of making a gift of it. 

 

Do you object to people giving gifts of their property in general?


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"The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime."


-- Max Stirner


#127
RestoringGuy

RestoringGuy
  • 1054 posts

Signatures only validate that they are your words and not anyone else's. If the contracts void each other or otherwise contradict that's a separate issue. If you signed a contract pre-repudiating future contracts and took out a loan you'd be acting in bad faith. 

 

Now, back to the contract and a party dying as I feel you're not understanding my question or are intentionally trying to distort it. Lets setup a scenario: Steve contracts with John to perform a task. Steve completes his obligations under the contract and later dies. John still has obligations to complete under the contract and Steve's death in no way hinders him. Is John morally absolved from his obligation to Steve now that Steve is dead?

Precisely why I said "if", to deny the supposition, not to support a bad conclusion. The mind cannot be disconnected from the contract while still considering the contract to be a moral agent.  If one requires good faith to confirm a contract, and bad faith invalidates it, what status do the dead have in that regard?  Their mental state is gone.  Two big holes are: (1) it's words, yes, but "their" is only a cultural metaphor, there's no real "their words" or "their wishes" because words cannot belong to somebody who does not exist, and (2) signature yes, but it's cultural convention that dictates what the preceding words mean and how a signature might be semantically connected to other words on the page.  Unlike objective truth, there's no way to reproduce the event and get a corresponding result in every alternative language.  Culture seems to be the sole foundation of validation that inheritance relies on.  

Of course my answer is:  I think if Steve is dead, the two-party agreement should be dead also.  Nothing seems distorted, but I will try to understand the question.  If candy is taken, somebody will care, and this involves different principles than contracts would.  Why draw the analogy?  There's the principles that (1) a store-owner makes candy exist, however indirectly, so stealing it leads to an unsustainable market for the thief, and primarily (2) the thief hypocritically will want to keep the candy by employing ethics to safeguard their pocket.  If the storeowner is dead, those principles can logically fail.  The dead do not continue to produce much besides decomposition byproducts, nor do they continue to try to keep material things.  I guess we agree in the case the storeowner does not die, there's some immorality with the thief.  Going back to John and Steve, what objective principle holds John in a state of obligation, aside from words demanded by a compost pile formerly known as Steve?  

Regarding absentee property being an attribute or component of something, why is that?  There's nothing I can use that proves it. A number can be generated randomly, but I cannot say "random" is an attribute of some particular number.  I mean, is 12 random, or is it non-random?  Random describes a process, not the number itself.  Property seems to describe a conscious process, not the object itself.  It's only a useful fiction, calling it an attribute of the object and not the mind, because you communicate what you want to keep.  Saying "I want to keep" is a process only abstractly connected to some distant thing.  You are free to change your mind and want to sell things, but those wants don't outlive the mind.  Like the Bible, we can make artifacts that say so, but that doesn't make it true.  An heir wants it to be true.  Draw a line and yell "My side, Your side". Some people give their estate to a dog, or to the church.  I suppose I could write a will to give property to "the tallest person alive in 1 billion years", or "this shall remain forever ownerless".  When I dead, I can't continue to assert it.  Meanwhile what principle prohibits a claim to own such property?


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#128
RestoringGuy

RestoringGuy
  • 1054 posts

What do you think possession is? 

Do you object to people giving gifts of their property in general?

 

I object when that gift is proven only by words of a dead and fictional consciousness.  I agree with most of what you say, aside from some generalizations about possession and estates.  The state is fictional, I just think estates are fictional also.

 

Possession could be taken more than one way, but your question is like asking if yelling or breathing on somebody is force.  Possession is what you physically have and protect.  Like you said, you can have possession by borrowing or renting something.  Whether it's "right" often becomes a mental process.  Did the owner consent?  A thief can have things in their possession, yet we do not call it property.  By my words, the thief has wrongful possession.  It does not cease to be possession because ethics does not hold.  A bird can possess a worm.  The body-ownership principle would still hold.  But as for the worm, we reject it as bird-property, not because of failure to possess, but because the bird cannot agree with you or me on any notion of "rights".  Neither can any dead people agree with me.  The dead's words are cultural artifacts, as are poems about birds.


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#129
Magnus

Magnus

    Subversive

  • 953 posts

I object when that gift is proven only by words of a dead and fictional consciousness.  I agree with most of what you say, aside from some generalizations about possession and estates.  The state is fictional, I just think estates are fictional also.

 

Possession could be taken more than one way, but your question is like asking if yelling or breathing on somebody is force.  Possession is what you physically have and protect.  Like you said, you can have possession by borrowing or renting something.  Whether it's "right" often becomes a mental process.  Did the owner consent?  A thief can have things in their possession, yet we do not call it property.  By my words, the thief has wrongful possession.  It does not cease to be possession because ethics does not hold.  A bird can possess a worm.  The body-ownership principle would still hold.  But as for the worm, we reject it as bird-property, not because of failure to possess, but because the bird cannot agree with you or me on any notion of "rights".  Neither can any dead people agree with me.  The dead's words are cultural artifacts, as are poems about birds.

 

I find it very strange that you'd object to inheritance on the basis of sufficient proof.  What would constitute sufficient proof, in your view?  A formal document that was authored by a person, reciting a great deal of flowery language about exactly what he is doing, signed by that person in the presence of two witnesses ... that's not enough, in the absence of evidence of some irregularity?  

 

What if you had no rational basis to dispute the authenticity of the document?  Would you still object to the validity of the property transfer it contains? 

 

Estates are fictional.  But I don't consider them to be unethical as long as they are an attempt by living people to complete ethical acts that were begun by a now-dead person. 

 

Yes, there is such thing as "rightful possession" and "wrongful possession."  A right of possession is as much as a valid type of property as ownership, even when the (rightful) possessor is competing with a claim by the owner!  But, the term "possession" also refers to the mere fact of controlling something (by force), and is therefore possibly wrongful, in which case the object in question can ethically be taken away from the wrongful possessor by the rightful possessor and/or owner (or his proxy).

 

So, you're very much correct -- possession is both an ethical term and a factual term, which can be confusing.  In contrast, ownership is a purely ethical matter, as is "title." 

 

As for the dead, they are clearly not dead when they write wills.  Wills are, of course, effective upon death, but they are written while alive, and more importantly, they transfer title to property at the moment of death. 

 

If you can write a deed transferring title to some piece of property to someone "one year from now," then why shouldn't you be able to define the timing of the transfer by other means?  Such as: "when the Mets win the World Series in a leap year"?  Or: "when my son John turns 21 years of age" (which is how a lot of trust funds work, by the way)?  

 

Or: "upon my death"? 


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"The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime."


-- Max Stirner


#130
RestoringGuy

RestoringGuy
  • 1054 posts

I find it very strange that you'd object to inheritance on the basis of sufficient proof.  What would constitute sufficient proof, in your view?  A formal document that was authored by a person, reciting a great deal of flowery language about exactly what he is doing, signed by that person in the presence of two witnesses ... that's not enough, in the absence of evidence of some irregularity?  

 

What if you had no rational basis to dispute the authenticity of the document?  Would you still object to the validity of the property transfer it contains? 

 

As for the dead, they are clearly not dead when they write wills.  Wills are, of course, effective upon death, but they are written while alive, and more importantly, they transfer title to property at the moment of death. 

 

If you can write a deed transferring title to some piece of property to someone "one year from now," then why shouldn't you be able to define the timing of the transfer by other means?  Such as: "when the Mets win the World Series in a leap year"?  Or: "when my son John turns 21 years of age" (which is how a lot of trust funds work, by the way)? 

I do not doubt the authenticity of the document any more than I doubt authenticity of the Holy Bible, as far as words having been written and perhaps what the names are of dead persons who once were able to write them.  But I doubt that the words can be taken as "true" after the author is dead and their assertions cannot in any scientific way stand on their own.  It's the authenticity of truth that is doubted.  I don't consider estates unethical either, but defenders are on the same foundation as somebody who rejects them.  For these two subgroups, good manners seems to be the distinction.  One side can say it's disrespect of the dead to void the will, the other side can say it's disrespect of the living to give the dead a superior say. I don't think wills can be effective upon death.  At a minimum, they are delayed by the time it takes to recognize a body as dead, read the will, and cast it into a belief system about whether the words convey some sort of truth about who owns what.  The document can't self-execute, just as paradoxical sentences do not vanish from a page.  I think there has to be a mental process involved to make it effective, and that mental process can choose to believe the words of the author, or interpret them as deranged and false.  To contrast, a false outcome will not stand in science, because you can repeat experiments, ask questions, etc., and ultimately the words can be confirmed as true and not just confirmed as written by somebody. For a title transfer declared one year from now, is the author dead?  I think it matters, because for an author rescinding it would seem like a loan default, but I don't believe the dead can default.  In any case, I don't think it's right to give undue consideration to what is written, because with EULAs and numerous documents we are required to sign, there are contradictions, hidden agendas, etc.  Documents and recordings of promises should only clarify what we once agreed to, only holding us "socially" responsible for transgressions, and not act as an auto-executing way to justify forcible rectifications.  I think of the idea of "inalienable" rights, that there's some rights contracts cannot dissolve.  Certainly I should be able to rescind a promise, or else "I promise never to keep promises after this one or even let this one be known to others when making future promises" would hold me hostage to being dishonest forever.  I think made up words and sentences don't self-execute in a moral realm, but they only convey an conscious intention at later social cost.


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