Marvin_Edwards wrote: ↑
May 28th, 2020, 7:38 pm
Again, what you're describing is a convention, a customary way of doing things. A rule. Your argument for the rule is basically that (a) it is the convention and (b) that it settles issues of property without violence.
No, Marvin. The argument for that rule is a moral one, which I've articulated several times: property first possessed is held righteously
, because it was acquired without inflicting loss or injury on anyone. That is what "rightful" possession means. Why do you ignore that argument?
But there are exceptions to that convention. One of the primary exceptions is "eminent domain", which is the right of the state or nation to buy your property, whether you choose to sell it or not, at a fair price, in order to provide a public good, such as a highway. According to Wikipedia, this concept dates back at least to 1066 AD, when William the Conqueror claimed ownership of all land. So, this too has a long history of precedence in common law. And it is noted in the 5th Amendment of the U.S. constitution as part of the Bill of Rights, that when private land is taken for public purpose the owner will be justly compensated.
Wrong again. Per US constititutional law eminent domain does not equate to, or presume, that the government is the owner of all land. If it were the owner, it would not need to compensate anyone for using it. You don't need to pay anyone to use what is yours. Moreover, the purposes for which the government can seize land are limited to "public use." The owner
of property may use it for anything he wishes (subject to the "do no harm" constraint).
Eminent domain is a power sometimes "necessary and proper" for the government to carry out its other constitutional duties. It has been frequently abused, notably by the Supreme Court's infamous Kelo
decision in 2005.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._C ... New_London
In the wake of that decision many states tightened their own eminent domain statutes, restricting what may count as a "public use."
There are also many laws that restrict what a private land owner can do with her property. She cannot burn her trash when it may cause unintended fires elsewhere. She even has to clear the snow and ice from her walkways in winter. And so on.
Yes. To the extent those restrictions are aimed at preventing harms to others they are morally defensible. That restriction applies to the exercise of all rights.
Oh, and of course, the owner of a restaurant cannot place a "Whites Only" sign in the window.
That one is not morally defensible, because placing such a sign, or refusing to do business with certain people, does not inflict loss or harm on anyone. It merely offends some people's sensibilities.
And racial discrimination in public accomodation is also a morally significant fact. One that outweighs the owner's rhetorical claim that he can do whatever he wishes because the restaurant belongs to him.
Only moral anarchists claim they can "do anything they wish" with their property. But if they claim they can do anything they wish with it that does not inflict losses or injuries on others, or create risks of doing so, then they are on solid moral ground. That is what having a right
to something entails, what it means.
Well, I was in college in the 1970's and communes were very popular back then. They have existed all over the world (see Wiki) and decisions are made by simple non-hierarchical consensus. And many of them claim that is the best way to live. So, common ownership is a valid alternative way of doing things.
Communal ownership is fine in communities of people who have voluntarily joined and agreed to that arrangement. But, of course, most people in modern political societies have not voluntarily joined them, and have not agreed to any such arrangement. The first possession rule is the default rule, the one that applies among persons who have agreed to no alternative principle for determining ownership.
GE Morton wrote: ↑
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Because stealing entails inflicting a loss or injury on someone, which, I assume you agree, is immoral prima facie.
Prima facie? Actually, it is an interesting exercise to try to come up with the moral reasoning behind a rule against theft. What would be the consequences if theft were generally allowed, as it may have been before it was declared morally wrong (perhaps back when we lived in caves)?
Surely the answer to that is obvious.
GE Morton wrote: ↑
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Contracts exist only among people who have positively assented to them. No person is party to any contract to which he has not positively assented.
If you deny that then you simply don't understand what a contract is.
Every time you refer to yourself as a citizen of the United States, you are implicitly assenting to the Constitutionthat created the nation that you claim to be a citizen of. No constitution, no nation. No nation, no citizenship.
We've covered that, Marvin. When I refer to myself as a citizen, I'm merely acknowledging that I satisfy a widely understood definition of "citizen." That I satisfy it is a matter of fact. It has no moral implications and imposes no moral obligations on anyone who satisfies it, any more than does being an "Elmer" impose them on persons who happen to satisfy that definition. I also refer to myself as an "American." That, too, merely expresses a matter of fact --- that I was born and raised in a certain part of the world. It imposes no obligations or carries any moral implications either. Acknowledging those facts does not constitute "implicit assent" to anything; that is a gratuitous non sequitur
. No fact implies any sort of assent or agreement by anyone to anything. You seem to be trying to derive an "ought" from an "is" there.
GE Morton wrote: ↑
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
But that comment is telling. It reveals that you conceive "membership" in a society to be like membership in a club, which members voluntarily join because they share the club's goals and agree to contribute to the attainment of those goals and abide by the club's by-laws. That conception of the structure of modern civilized societies is false
. "Members" of such societies have not voluntarily joined, they do not share any common goals, and they've entered into no agreements with all other members. Assumptions to the contrary can only be maintained as quasi-religious "articles of faith," stubbornly held in the face of obvious empirical evidence refuting them.
Membership is given to you freely at birth, when you were too young to make your own choice.
But now you are old enough to decide for yourself whether you wish to remain a citizen. If you are still here, then you have deliberately chosen to be a part of this nation. No one is forcing you to stay. You are a citizen today because you have chosen to be a part of this nation of your own free will.
Now you seem to be assuming that I need someone's permission to remain here, and that I must agree to some hypothetical "contract" to secure that permission. I suppose that assumption rests on the assumption, refuted above, that "the nation" and all the territory witihin it is some sort of collective property, owned in common by all citizens. That is, of course, false.
I remain here because it is the place with which I am familiar and am comfortable here. I need no one's permission to do so, and no one has any morally defensible authority or license to impose conditions on my doing so.
A "Whites Only" sign in a restaurant window inflicts loss and injury upon any black person who wishes a convenient place to buy his lunch. To deny them a job, a house, or simply a place to eat lunch because they are black is a real loss and a real injury.
No, Marvin, it is not. A loss or injury is a reduction
in someone's welfare --- some act that makes someone worse off than he was before that act occurred. A person refused entry to a restaurant, or with whom someone else declines to enter into any other kind of relationship, has not sustained any reduction in his welfare. He is just as healthy, just as wealthy, when he walks away as when he approached the door. He's lost nothing and suffered no injuries. A refusal to confer a benefit does not constitute imposing a loss
You need to consider the implications of your claim there. If everyone with whom someone else has declined to enter a relationship can claim he was "injured," and may force the other to enter that relationship or pay "damages," you've created a regime of universal State slavery.
While requiring the restaurant owner to accommodate them, like he does everyone else, causes no real loss and no real injury to the restaurant owner. Thus a law against racial decrimination is morally superior to any rule protecting the owner's right to discriminate.
Well, that depends on your criteria for evaluating/comparing the moral worth of various acts. But per any objective criteria your claim is false. As just argued, the person turned away suffers no loss or injury; nothing is taken from him. But the owner does suffer a loss, in the pleasure and satisfaction he gains from operating his business, and possibly from the loss of other paying customers. Suppose the State dictated that you must make that spare bedroom of yours available to a homeless person referred by the State. Would you consider the invasion of your privacy, your autonomy, and having no place to accommodate your kid when she comes to visit, a loss?
As I said, I agree that racial discrimination is ignorant and offensive. But that doesn't make it immoral. As Voltaire said with regard to speech, "I may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."
The nation is assigned authority by private individuals to decide matters of common interest.
There is no "common interest" in outlawing racial discrimination, or in anything else. That is a term used much too glibly and thoughtlessly. It is always inaccurate. Everything asserted to be in the "common interest" or the "public interest" proves, with the most casual examination, to be in the interest of some people only.
By our prior agreement, the laws passed by congress apply to all of us, whether we personally agree with them or not. If we disagree, then we can continue to advocate for our views, and perhaps prevail ourselves eventually. This is how we agreed to do things in America. This provides a means of peaceful social progress.
Oh, my. You're still hanging your hat on a mythical "agreement" which obviously does not exist and for which you can produce no iota of evidence. Please produce a copy of this agreement signed by all persons you claim are parties to it.
No presumptuous "implicit" agreements illogically deduced from non-moral facts, please. If you can't do that, then please abandon this fiction.