John Howard writes:
RW asks me: "Why would you want to interfere with this [PPS] with a rule machine of some sort overruling private property freedom that would eventually result in a lot of rules you don't like?"My point in discussing proportional punishment theory is to simply refute it as a logically sound theory that seemingly suggests a necessary addendum to the private property owner setting rules.
But PPS is a rule machine which, unmodified, has results I do not like.
RW makes the error of thinking that the punishment of private property violators is a PART of the private property rule. It is not. It is a separate rule - one which he is not crafting well. We can have a PPS which absolutely observes the rule of private property and yet leaves violation punishment to a separate rule.
Remember what the PPS is: a rule that says we may not interfere with your use of your property. It isn't a rule for you to obey, but for the rest of us to obey.
So your PPS lays down a rule for the rest of us to obey, and we, in turn, lay down a rule for you to obey: punishment will be according to some code, not your arbitrary whim. We do not get to arbitrarily decide what is your property and you do not get to arbitrarily decide what is our punishment. A proper Private Property Society is a bargain struck to mutual advantage - not a one-sided power granted by us to you. You may not agree with the punishment our code prescribes, but then we may not agree that the property is yours.
RW seems to want us to agree to his declaration that some property is his and also to his declaration of its value to him (unprovable since value is subjective and the subjective is without evidence). Such flagrantly one-sided arbitrariness is absurd in human relations. We can not build a society by pretending that subjective whims are facts to be balanced in the scales of justice.
Fundamentally it goes back to the insight of the Austrian school economists that all value is subjective. Thus, an outsider could never determine what is "proportional punishment."
That said, PPS does not call for the rejection of an attempt to impose a proportional punishment theory, of for that matter, punishment determined by a role of the dice or the ouija board.
The only rule in a PPS is the owner sets the rules on his property. It is very likely that most people will set sane rules, including punishment rules on their property--or they won't have many visitors.
PPS "does not lay down a rule..that punishment will be according to some code..." anymore than PPS demands that all must hold that 2 plus 2 equals four. You can go along all day and night holding to the idea that 2 plus 2 equals six or that proportionality of punishment can somehow magically be determined.
The NAPster writes:
Robert, I don't find your skepticism of the idea of proportionality to be persuasive. For instance, if someone destroys an object of great value to me, then a proportional punishment would be that I have the right to destroy an object of great value to them.
But value is subjective. How can outsiders determine value? I may sleep with an old teddy bear that you put little value on but would cause me heart palpitations if it were maliciously destroyed. You are going to sit there and tell me just how much the loss of the teddy bear is to me and not a penny more?
If someone causes paralysis of my right leg, proportional punishment would be that I have the right to paralyze one of their legs (or have someone do this for me).How is that "proportional" punishment if the leg damaged belongs to LeBron James and it ends his career and future earning in the hundred of millions?
What if I like to walk and never will do so again but the perpetrator is a couch potato who doesn't care one hoot about a paralyzed leg?
What if the perpetrator is already in a wheelchair because of his left leg and has no uise for an active right leg at all?
There is no such thing as proportional punishment. All value is subjective. The value of the same physical object can be completely different for different people. Value is always in the eye of the beholder.
The NAPster asks
Robert, in your version of a PPS how would disputes over property rights be resolved?My best answer to this so far comes via a point I made in a debate with Walter Block. I plan at a future day to refine my answer of this but this is the basic outline:
If I decide to buy property, I want to make sure that the people around me have the same respect for private property, that is all. Notice: I am not attempting to drag in some court that has set rules over a region. I am just looking for an area where people, in general, respect each other and mind their own business.-RW
Recognizing that even under the conditions where property is generally respected that outsiders could still wander in and do damage or disputes could arise with neighbors, in such an area, I would hire a private security agency to protect my property. If this is a big agency, they would have other clients and say to me,"Look, we will back you up on what is your property, but if you have a dispute with one of our other clients, we want you to agree that we can take this to our private court, where we have the most wise and fair judges in the world."
Now at this point. I can say "No thanks" or because I am reasonable and have checked out to see that the security agency's judges are indeed the wisest and most fair in the land, I sign up.
Notice here: No one is forcing me to use this court and follow their rules, I am agreeing to do so. I don't have to. I can live without the agency and court if I want. Or I can hire another agency and a different court. What if my agency comes up against my opposition who has a different agency? I would imagine such agencies would come up against each other many, many times in a PPS, so that, if they are profit seekers, they would just reach an agreement that if they come up against each other they would use certain great. wise and fair judges that they have both decided on.
Of course, in my contract with my agency, they would stipulate that when coming up against other agencies, they would have the option to determine how a dispute is resolved in which court, by an agreement between the two agencies.
All agencies would compete to be the wisest and fairest in the land since that is how they would get clients---and compete that their rules are the best. An agency that was crooked wouldn't last long.
Notice again, no over-ruling laws, Choose your security agency by the way it operates with its own clients and rules, and how they operate with other agencies that might have different rules.
And so, without an over-ruling body, a private property society could exist. with respect for the rules set by the property owner paramount and at the core of the basis by which security agencies would agree to protect a property,
If Dr. Block wants to claim that the shoes I am wearing are his, he is free to do so, but he would never win with any serious agency that was competing for customers on the basis of being fair about private property. I would prove (perhaps by receipt) that I acquired the shoes via a legitimate transaction. There would be no agency that would take the case of Dr. Block here since they know they would lose if it went to court. And if he is so rich that he is able to get an agency to represent him anyway, he would lose before the fair and wise judges.