Rethinking Common vs. Private Property

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a rethinking of the common-versus-private framing of the property rights issue in the Commons Movement. The underlying normative principle we will use is simply the basic juridical principle that people should be legally responsible for the (positive and negative) results of their actions, i.e., that legal or de jure responsibility should be imputed in accordance with de facto responsibility. In the context of property rights, the responsibility principle is the old idea that property should be founded on people getting the (positive or negative) fruits of their labor, which is variously called the labor or natural rights theory of property.

The Pons Asinorum of Political-Economic Theory

In many debates of a political or economic nature, I find myself again and again arguing with people on both the left and right who take the consent-vs.-coercion framing of political and economic issues as fundamental. Those on the right tend to take consent as the essentially sufficient condition for an institution to be morally acceptable. Somewhat surprisingly, those on the left accept the same framing of the issue, and just take the other side—arguing that certain institutions are “actually” coercive.

Listen Libertarians! Concluding Part V

In this fifth and concluding part of the review of John Tomasi’s book Free Market Fairness, we look at the invisible hand mechanism of the property system (in contrast to the usual price system) which seems to be invisible to liberal scholars and social scientists since it does not give a satisfactory “account” of the current economic system based on the renting of human beings.

Listen Libertarians! Part IV

In this Part IV, we consider the rather fake “inalienable rights” theory of classical liberal/libertarian thought that is consistent with a civilized voluntary slavery contract, a nondemocratic pact of subjection, and a coverture marriage contract, all of which are outlawed in the advanced democracies.

Listen Libertarians! Part III

In this Part III, we consider the conceptual misunderstanding of what Tomasi calls “productive property” which allows the basic capitalism-versus-socialism misframing of the debate about the so-called “capitalist” system.

Listen Libertarians! Part II

In Part I of this series, we saw how Tomasi used the standard consent-versus-coercion misframing of the basic issues in his new book: Free Market Fairness. In this Part II, we consider the misframing involved in the treatment of property rights.

Listen Libertarians! Part I

This is Part I of a five part review of John Tomasi’s Hayek-Rawls remix in his new book: Free Market Fairness.

Is Wall Street Capitalism really “The Model”?

The continuing financial collapse of 2008, which caused trillions of dollars of damages to most everyone but the Wall Street elites, will perhaps lead to some hesitation in the reflex to evoke the Wall Street model—if not to some more fundamental rethinking of the issues. Perhaps the Occupy Wall Street movements around the world are the beginning of such a rethinking. In any case, our purpose here is such a rethinking by going back to some of the basic principles that are supposed to be exemplified in a market economy.

Free Cities: What could be wrong with that?

This post is an update of a previous post on The Charter Cities Debate and Democratic Theory. A new twist on Paul Romer’s idea of charter cities has come to my attention. It is promoted under the name of “free cities.” The home base seems to be the Free Cities Institute headquartered at the Francisco Marroquin University, a right-wing university in Guatemala.

Inalienable Rights: Part III A Litmus Test for Liberalism

Surely it is not too much to ask a modern liberal theory of justice that it provide a coherent account of why some contracts, e.g., self-sale contract, should be deemed invalid and why the rights such contracts would legally alienate are inalienable. In that sense, the theory of inalienable rights provides a historical litmus test for liberalism.