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Offline starspirit

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The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« on: January 27, 2015, 03:20:38 AM »

Something I've been questioning recently, inspired by a number of the recent debates and blog posts. Perhaps others may like to join the musings...

Can "rights" exist in a stateless society? If not ultimately by coercion supported by consensus, how can any rights be enforced?

Ownership is where property is accepted by the community as belonging to somebody, for their control. But without a means to identify this (looking through the block-chain to individuals) and to enforce this (ultimately via co-ordinated threats of some nature), does ownership really exist, or just the ability to control, for as long as that ability is maintained? For example, sometimes we use the language that block-chains enforce property rights. But is this the most accurate language? Block-chains seem only to enforce control of property, to whoever holds the keys. Should the keys be lost or stolen, there is no way to enforce the attribution of the property back to the individual.

In a future state-less world, should a location-based community be attacked by drones for its geographic resources, what international law would prevail to uphold any rights of the "owners"? Are they left to coordinate and mount their own defence?Does everything come down to control, and the ability to attack and defend that control? Wouldn't this naturally lead to centralised and decentralised communities forming co-ordinated defensive mechanisms?
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 03:25:36 AM by starspirit »

Offline Troglodactyl

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 03:30:30 AM »
If by "rights" you mean moral rights, then enforcement is irrelevant to their existence, because they only describe that which it is morally justifiable to enforce.

If by "rights" you mean whatever status is enforced, then I don't see how it matters whether that status includes the presence or the absence of a state.

Or is the question whether morality exists in any real sense, or if it's just an artificial projection of the desires of the strongest or most violent group?

Offline wesphily

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 03:34:53 AM »
Something I've been questioning recently, inspired by a number of the recent debates and blog posts. Perhaps others may like to join the musings...

Can "rights" exist in a stateless society? If not ultimately by coercion supported by consensus, how can any rights be enforced?

Ownership is where property is accepted by the community as belonging to somebody, for their control. But without a means to identify this (looking through the block-chain to individuals) and to enforce this (ultimately via co-ordinated threats of some nature), does ownership really exist, or just the ability to control, for as long as that ability is maintained? For example, sometimes we use the language that block-chains enforce property rights. But is this the most accurate language? Block-chains seem only to enforce control of property, to whoever holds the keys. Should the keys be lost or stolen, there is no way to enforce the attribution of the property back to the individual.

In a future state-less world, should a location-based community be attacked by drones for its geographic resources, what international law would prevail to uphold any rights of the "owners"? Are they left to coordinate and mount their own defence?Does everything come down to control, and the ability to attack and defend that control? Wouldn't this naturally lead to centralised and decentralised communities forming co-ordinated defensive mechanisms?

Even in centralized solutions land is not owned. It is controlled so long as it does not stand in the way of a public good. (Eminent domain)

A simple fix to lost keys would be a quit claim. This hasn't been created because people haven't investigated it yet. However, a social consensus could be used to resolve clout of ownership. This of course would require that the block chain be able to store deed and title information.

Long story short, it is possible, but it does not exist yet. Bitshares could be modified to make it work.


Edit: I was proposing solutions to prove ownership in land through the Bloch chain.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 03:38:41 AM by wesphily »

Offline Troglodactyl

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 03:40:36 AM »
Clearly both laws and blockchains are impotent for enforcing anything, because they're just communication.  If anything is to be enforced, either with a state or without it, it will be enforced by people who are willing to use force against others who don't comply.

Offline starspirit

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 03:40:59 AM »
If by "rights" you mean moral rights, then enforcement is irrelevant to their existence, because they only describe that which it is morally justifiable to enforce.

If by "rights" you mean whatever status is enforced, then I don't see how it matters whether that status includes the presence or the absence of a state.

Or is the question whether morality exists in any real sense, or if it's just an artificial projection of the desires of the strongest or most violent group?

In modern society, when people currently use terms like "property" or "rights", they generally mean that this will be defended on their behalf by the community or some state apparatus, should those rights be breached in any way. They have some community-provided recourse to make amends. So I am talking more about this than "moral rights" (though I also question the latter, but lets keep that separate).

One of the purported advantages of block-chain like technology is that property rights are inarguable. I'm putting forth an argument that not only is that not the case (because that transparency does not extend to the owners of the keys), it is any any case unenforceable in the sense that most would expect of those terms.

Taking this even further, I'm also conjecturing that the need to defend this control in a stateless world might lead to a situation where communities (centralised or decentralised) form their own coordinated modes of attack and defence around common resources. The world may not see the end of war as a result, just a change in form.

Offline Stan

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 03:44:38 AM »
Something I've been questioning recently, inspired by a number of the recent debates and blog posts. Perhaps others may like to join the musings...

Can "rights" exist in a stateless society? If not ultimately by coercion supported by consensus, how can any rights be enforced?

Ownership is where property is accepted by the community as belonging to somebody, for their control. But without a means to identify this (looking through the block-chain to individuals) and to enforce this (ultimately via co-ordinated threats of some nature), does ownership really exist, or just the ability to control, for as long as that ability is maintained? For example, sometimes we use the language that block-chains enforce property rights. But is this the most accurate language? Block-chains seem only to enforce control of property, to whoever holds the keys. Should the keys be lost or stolen, there is no way to enforce the attribution of the property back to the individual.

In a future state-less world, should a location-based community be attacked by drones for its geographic resources, what international law would prevail to uphold any rights of the "owners"? Are they left to coordinate and mount their own defence?Does everything come down to control, and the ability to attack and defend that control? Wouldn't this naturally lead to centralised and decentralised communities forming co-ordinated defensive mechanisms?

Rights are not granted by governments, they are inalienable.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, block chains are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the owners, That whenever any form of block chain becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Owners to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new block chains, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Your actual mileage may vary.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 03:46:19 AM by Stan »
Anything said on these forums does not constitute an intent to create a legal obligation or contract of any kind.   These are merely my opinions which I reserve the right to change at any time.

Offline starspirit

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 03:59:03 AM »

Rights are not granted by governments, they are inalienable.


If so, there are no property rights, because ownership of property, even purchased property, can always be philosophically challenged. Nature does not grant any person any right to any mineral, goods, quality of health, basic income, or even life itself. These human conceptualisations can only be granted by a consensus willing to enforce it, whether that apparatus is called state or not.

It's a subtle point. I'm saying block-chains do not enforce anything except the ability to control. Ownership rights exist separately if they are enforced.

Offline Troglodactyl

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 04:20:05 AM »

Rights are not granted by governments, they are inalienable.


If so, there are no property rights, because ownership of property, even purchased property, can always be philosophically challenged. Nature does not grant any person any right to any mineral, goods, quality of health, basic income, or even life itself. These human conceptualisations can only be granted by a consensus willing to enforce it, whether that apparatus is called state or not.

It's a subtle point. I'm saying block-chains do not enforce anything except the ability to control. Ownership rights exist separately if they are enforced.

We're getting mixed up on moral rights versus legal rights again.

The fact that moral property rights can be challenged and questioned philosophically doesn't prove that they don't exist.  Claiming that a human's right to life does not exist without a consensus is true of the legal right to life, but I reject the idea that the moral right to life is nonexistent without consensus.  I assert that objective value exists, because there is literally no value in supposing that it does not.

Offline starspirit

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 05:10:57 AM »

Rights are not granted by governments, they are inalienable.


If so, there are no property rights, because ownership of property, even purchased property, can always be philosophically challenged. Nature does not grant any person any right to any mineral, goods, quality of health, basic income, or even life itself. These human conceptualisations can only be granted by a consensus willing to enforce it, whether that apparatus is called state or not.

It's a subtle point. I'm saying block-chains do not enforce anything except the ability to control. Ownership rights exist separately if they are enforced.

We're getting mixed up on moral rights versus legal rights again.

The fact that moral property rights can be challenged and questioned philosophically doesn't prove that they don't exist.  Claiming that a human's right to life does not exist without a consensus is true of the legal right to life, but I reject the idea that the moral right to life is nonexistent without consensus.  I assert that objective value exists, because there is literally no value in supposing that it does not.
OK, let's suppose moral property rights exist, and that there is some way the consensus can agree on this, thousands of years of human conflict notwithstanding. How do we solve the practical issue of how it can be assured that private keys are always in the hands of their rightful owners, or of how those property rights can be enforced in the absence of consensus-based threat (i.e. a state, or some other consensus-based apparatus of coercion)? This is why I am questioning whether block-chains actually assert property or ownership rights, as opposed to just property control. I'm suggesting we need to change the language we use, for a start, and think about how society can (and is likely to)  respond to the latter problems in the absence of state.

Offline arhag

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 05:22:00 AM »
Define "rights". Regardless of your definition of rights someone else may have another definition that conflicts with yours. Perhaps your definition of rights gives you moral authority (authority that is only recognized by yourself and other people who share your philosophy of course) to disregard other's definitions. The statement that "rights" are "inalienable" and "endowed by their Creator" seems to suggest that you believe in rights (and furthermore morality) as objective things, meaning things that exist in the physical (or metaphysical?) universe outside of any conscious entity's mind, rather than as abstract constructs in the minds of human beings. I think of morality as purely a subjective thing.

EDIT by Stan:  apologies, I hit edit instead of quote and screwed up this post.

EDIT2 by arhag: Darn.. I forgot what I wrote and don't have a backup in my cache. It was pretty long too. It was something about discussing the distinction between coercion by consensus (e.g. coordinated shunning) and violence, but ultimately saying I don't think of them as that far apart. For example, coordinated shunning can essentially be a death sentence for stubborn individuals because they depend on others for survival. And we can argue whether that is morally equivalent to "murder by the shunners" or "suicide by the shunned" but is not all that different to me to enforcing rights with the threat of violence by the state. Also, I then responded with the above quote to Stan's comment and further added that the only thing that I consider close to objective regarding morality are the consensus morals determined by a given society (which can differ community to community and over time) which we can also call "legal rights" (to use the phrase that Troglodactyl used). Society holding those consensus morals would find it beneficial to enforce these "legal rights" and one could even call that a government or state.

I really wish I could get back the original. Too bad these forums don't have revision histories. By the way, does anyone know of a bot I could run that can automatically back up all of the posts in a user's "Profile >> Show posts" page in their raw form? I might be motivated enough to build one myself...
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 07:10:07 AM by arhag »

Offline Stan

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 05:49:53 AM »

Rights are not granted by governments, they are inalienable.


If so, there are no property rights, because ownership of property, even purchased property, can always be philosophically challenged. Nature does not grant any person any right to any mineral, goods, quality of health, basic income, or even life itself. These human conceptualisations can only be granted by a consensus willing to enforce it, whether that apparatus is called state or not.

It's a subtle point. I'm saying block-chains do not enforce anything except the ability to control. Ownership rights exist separately if they are enforced.

We're getting mixed up on moral rights versus legal rights again.

The fact that moral property rights can be challenged and questioned philosophically doesn't prove that they don't exist.  Claiming that a human's right to life does not exist without a consensus is true of the legal right to life, but I reject the idea that the moral right to life is nonexistent without consensus.  I assert that objective value exists, because there is literally no value in supposing that it does not.
OK, let's suppose moral property rights exist, and that there is some way the consensus can agree on this, thousands of years of human conflict notwithstanding. How do we solve the practical issue of how it can be assured that private keys are always in the hands of their rightful owners, or of how those property rights can be enforced in the absence of consensus-based threat (i.e. a state, or some other consensus-based apparatus of coercion)? This is why I am questioning whether block-chains actually assert property or ownership rights, as opposed to just property control. I'm suggesting we need to change the language we use, for a start, and think about how society can (and is likely to)  respond to the latter problems in the absence of state.

Block chains are only sovereign over the ledger data they contain.  All they can enforce is the rules for altering that ledger. To the extent that the state of that data is important to you then others may be able to influence your behavior in the "real" world in exchange for whatever ability they have to alter that ledger state in your favor. 

Anything said on these forums does not constitute an intent to create a legal obligation or contract of any kind.   These are merely my opinions which I reserve the right to change at any time.

Offline Stan

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 06:11:22 AM »
Define "rights". Regardless of your definition of rights someone else may have another definition that conflicts with yours. Perhaps your definition of rights gives you moral authority (authority that is only recognized by yourself and other people who share your philosophy of course) to disregard other's definitions. The statement that "rights" are "inalienable" and "endowed by their Creator" seems to suggest that you believe in rights (and furthermore morality) as objective things, meaning things that exist in the physical (or metaphysical?) universe outside of any conscious entity's mind, rather than as abstract constructs in the minds of human beings. I think of morality as purely a subjective thing.


(Rats, I hit modify instead of quote and screwed up this post.)

Natural rights such as to secure life, liberty, and property as John Locke defined them.

Morality is only subjective if there is no rather opinionated Creator who says otherwise.  :)
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Offline arhag

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 06:31:38 AM »
Morality is only subjective if there is no rather opinionated Creator who says otherwise.  :)

Great, time to bring up the five questions I asked bytemaster back in October:

  • Do you believe that objective morality exists?
  • If the answer to the first question is yes, then who/what determines these objective morals and how are humans supposed to discover them and prove their veracity?
  • If the answer to the first question is yes, then do you believe that "respecting property rights" and "not harming others" belong in the aforementioned set of objective morals?
  • How do you define property and property rights? What is and is not considered property? What rights do they give to the owners? How are the owners even determined? What does it mean to not harm others? Is this physical harm, emotional harm, or both? Who even gets to determine whether harm occurred or whether it was "sufficient" harm? (I realize these are actually way more than one question)
  • If the answer to the first question is yes, then are your answers to the previous question, which describe what "property rights" and "harm" should be, also defined objectively along with the set of objective morals? If not, through which mechanisms do you believe human societies should come to a consensus on the answers to those questions?

You already answered yes to the first question. I'm particularly most interested in your answer to the second question more than any other, in particular the "how are humans supposed to discover them and prove their veracity" part.


P.S. I find it really annoying that the SMF software doesn't allow me to quote a post in a locked thread.

Offline starspirit

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2015, 06:54:22 AM »
These are fantastic questions arhag. I also think whatever the individual answers are, beyond the simple statements like "not harming others", there is a world of conflicts and compromises once people start debating the nuances. I find hypothetical situations useful to elucidate these, and I've given some past examples.

Irrespective of one's stance on the existence of objective moral truths and rights, the point of the OP is that the block-chain cannot protect whatever ownership rights it is that one believes they have. The block-chain is silent on whether the distribution of property control is consistent with those moral ownership rights, nor does it provide a practical mechanism to enforce it. This means that other (outside-blockchain) mechanisms are required to satisfy property rights.
(Unless one takes a post-blockchain neo-view that control is sufficient to grant the ownership right...)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 07:00:47 AM by starspirit »

Offline Stan

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Re: The stateless society, ownership and rights? Can they co-exist?
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2015, 02:27:58 PM »
You already answered yes to the first question. I'm particularly most interested in your answer to the second question more than any other, in particular the "how are humans supposed to discover them and prove their veracity" part.

You can't discover or prove things which are not observable.
If there are such things, you can only know them if they are taught to you by someone you find credible.
There are many who claim to have been eye-witnesses to such teaching.
Like any juror, you have to decide whether you find such eye-witnesses credible.

I have never seen a strange quark.
I have no capability to observe one.
I have to decide whether the group of physicists who say they have observed them are credible.   :)
Anything said on these forums does not constitute an intent to create a legal obligation or contract of any kind.   These are merely my opinions which I reserve the right to change at any time.

 

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