1. I don't see how someone can own themselves innately. Ownership implies a relation between a subject and an object. (I own it). I own myself is nonsensical. It implies that at the same time I own and I am owned. Possibly it works if you assume some sort of mind/body duality, but otherwise I would say that people are unowned (in the state of nature, at least), much like native land is.
(Original post by jesusandtequila)
So the people that shape you own a portion of your work? So for example, parents, who shape the development of children therefore own a portion of the work that the child goes on to do (and implicitly therefore, a portion of the child)? I don't think that's a valid argument at all. Those that shape development either do so voluntarily, by virtue of associating themselves with the person through choice - or are rewarded for that (eg. teachers get a wage, journalists (if we're arguing the press shapes people) get a wage etc.). Where is this mystical 'society' element that isn't captured in the above?
1. A person owns themselves.
2. Therefore, they own their time.
3. Therefore, they own what they trade their time for.
Interesting to see which of the 3 statements of the above you're specifically disagreeing with, 1, 2 or 3?
The value of what somebody trades their time for is determined partially by society, not the individual. To an extent, I can raise the value of what I trade my time for, should I attempt to educate myself or otherwise increase my natural capital. However, the value of what I trade my time for will always be limited by factors outside of my control. Is it true to say a footballer deserves a salary a hundred times greater than that of a nurse? He probably puts in less effort. To what extent does he deserve that salary? He has been lucky in being born into societal conditions in which football skills are valued more highly than nurses skill. That is nothing to do with his own effort and everything to do with luck of the draw. As such, to say he is fully entitled to that would be unjust. If people were the sole factors in determining what the value of their work was worth, that is, if value was a function of effort alone, I would agree with you. As it is, the system militates against the unfortunate, despite their efforts.
Last edited by TopHat; 24-04-2012 at 18:42.
Not innately, no. I think part of entering a state is that we partially collectivise ownership. However, the best system for increasing the utility of the least well off is a system with high dynamic efficiency. Dynamic efficiency is greatest when there is a strong culture of diversity, and thus a state which grants extremely high levels of autonomy (and therefore creates a culture of diversity) will be highly dynamically efficient. Therefore, a state which grants us a very high degree of ownership in regards to our time is likely to be a state which does the best in providing for the poorest in society.
(Original post by jesusandtequila)
Two things - firstly, the claim of self-ownership is stronger than what is required, I'd be interested firstly to hear if you agree with the claim that "we own our time".
This misses the point entirely. One cannot own oneself. "owning" requires a subject, and an object in relationship to the subject. You can own your body (bodily integrity), you can own your time (temporal property), but you can't own yourself. It is nonsensical to say so.
"One common objection to the concept of self-ownership is to say that you don’t own yourself, you are yourself. This is a fairly empty statement. First of all, saying that you are yourself is just a simple tautology. Nothing follows from it. Second, it does not even contradict the statement that you own yourself. To compare the two statements is to compare a purely factual statement to a normative statement. It is apples and oranges. Both statements can be true at the same time.
This is better. By self-ownership, what you mean is the right to self-determinacy. However, I contest very much that these are subjective or arbitrary. Additionally, I feel the failure to note the difference between self-determinacy and temporal ownership are critical weaknesses in this argument.
Self-ownership is a normative concept. It is a statement about how things should be. To say that you own yourself is equivalent to saying that it is right that you own yourself. It is right and proper that you should be the one to decide your actions for yourself and to control your own destiny. You should have the right of exclusive control over your body and mind. It is a statement about ethics. But these ethics are not subjective or arbitrary. They are necessarily implied by the facts of human action, specifically the action of argument.
Thist creates a false dichotomy. Self-determinacy, they are correct, is not wrong, immoral, or unethical. It is amoral. Given you have no choice about whether to be self-determinant or not, you can't say whether it is moral. For a system of morality to be constructed, you need to be able to have to viable choices, in order that one choice may be moral and another immoral. Humans have no choice, currently, as regards our self-determinacy - we cannot chose to abdicate our actions to another. If we did, they would not be our actions. As such, self-determinacy falls outside the moral boundaries. It is amoral. They are correct it is a factual property.
Since you cannot help but exercise control over yourself — even if just to make an argument against self-ownership — self-ownership is a fact of human action. It is a requirement for the action of argument. If just by the fact of exercising exclusive control over yourself you are not doing something that is wrong, immoral or unethical, then you must be doing something that is perfectly right, moral and ethical. How would you argue that self-ownership is morally wrong, without doing something that is morally wrong by your own definition? Self-ownership is thus both a moral right and a factual property of human beings.
The rest of the argument again and again makes the simple mistake of conflating self-determinacy (the ability to determine our own actions) with temporal ownership (the ownership of our time) and assumes the two are intrinsically linked. I disagree. I find it amoral to have self-determinacy. However, I find it immoral to use that self-determinacy to steal time which does not belong to me. That is, I find it immoral not to pay taxes.
This is where I find arguments have to revert to the state of nature argument. It is clear for many reasons no person would want to live in the state of nature. The only real rule of the state of nature is that ownership is determined by rule of force, rather than rule of law. For this is reason, it is necessary that individuals form a state. From this very moment, they have already acknowledged they have a master - the rule of law. While they still have self-determinacy, the cost of the creation of a state is that in part they give up some ownership of their time, which is dedicated towards the state. They can, of course, choose (through self-determinacy) not to dedicate ownership of their time. The result is that the state is capable of using force to lay claim to that time. The moment you create a state to regulate any function, even law and order, you admit people have to relinquish some small part of their time. If you really want to argue that self-determinacy innately brings about temporal ownership, then you have to argue for the complete and utter abolition of the state, as any state, even the most minimal state dedicated to nothing but law and order, reduces temporal ownership.
We then have to imagine the kind of state they would make a deal to create. From a position of blindness, people will not know their natural advantages or disadvantages. As such, it is reasonable to assume that people would chose a state in which the least well off have the greatest utility. Most people would sacrifice some degree of ownership of their time in order to do so. Now, temporal ownership in and of itself generates some degree of happiness. If we feel we do not own sufficient time in which to do things we would like, than we are less happy - our utility decreases. As such, an ideal state would claim a low level of temporal ownership. However, a low level of temporal ownership is not the a priori function of the state - that would be maximising utility of the least well off. To that end, if reducing temporal ownership would actually increase the utility of those with the least utility, then reducing temporal ownership is fully justified.
Socioeconomic and cultural teachings shape how you value things. Say I value tennis. I do not innately value tennis on some personal level, my desire for tennis is shaped in a large way by who raised me. Had I been raised by someone else, I might value football more. There is not a single man on this planet who makes a decision which is independent of all other people. I value the banana higher than the apple, not entirely though personal choice, but because of the culture I was raised in and the people I was raised by - the value is not dependent solely on me, but rather is vastly interdependent on the choices of others who are not me.
Quite wrong. Value does not exist objectively. It exists only in the mind of the person who values an object. When I trade you a banana for an apple, and you accept, it is because I value the apple higher than the banana, whilst you value the banana higher than the apple. So where does society come in ehre determining value?
Last edited by TopHat; 24-04-2012 at 20:28.