Saturday, June 04, 2005

Libertarians for Confiscation of Property!

Note that, according to the libertarian entitlement theory, justice in initial acquisition is crucial. If I am not entitled to the resources I appropriate, then I cannot transfer that title to you. Without just initial acquisition, property rights are groundless. This spells trouble for our modern economy, as Kymlicka points out:
The historical answer is often that natural resources came to be someone's property by force. This is a rather embarrassing fact for those who hope Nozick's theory will defend existing inequalities. Either the use of force made the initial acquisition illegitimate, in which case current title is illegitimate, and there is no moral reason why government should not confiscate the wealth and redistribute it. Or the initial use of force did not necessarily render the acquisition illegitimate, in which case using force to take property away from its current owners and redistribute is also not necessarily illegitimate. Either way, the fact that initial acquisition often involved force means that there is no moral objection within Nozick's framework to redistributing existing wealth. (Contemporary Political Philosophy, p.111)


  1. you could use use as the foundation for initial intitlement For example "maori tribe X was occupying land Y therefore they own it."
    This implies there is a lower (and rather more clear cut) standard for initial ownership than that of becoming a new owner.
    Or you could argue that in the end distribution doesnt matter nad thus which individuals own things to start off with dont matter as long as they act rationally and distribute it to the right people who cna make hte most money out of it.

  2. You've picked a really tough practical problem for any system, including the current justice system.

    I don't think there is a good answer to native titles, including libertarians and everyone else. It's a compromise.

    All a libertarian asks is that people's choice is given a higher priority than happiness or other maximisable principle.

    For example, possibly everyone concerned puts all their money on the table, splits it in two, and bids for the land with it. Anything left over, they keep.


  3. Have you seen the movie Red River? There’s a scene in there, as I recall, that deals with just this issue.


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