Sunday, March 4, 2007

Wow: A Derivation of the Private Property Ethic

I have long assumed that an ethical system must be axiomatic. You can't derive a system of ethics from a priori knowledge. But I have been proved wrong; Hans Hoppe wrote a paper doing just that. In his paper, which you can read here, Hoppe derives the private property ethic and the homesteading principle.

Hoppe's argument is roughly this:

1) Any proposition which is inconsistent with the ability to make propositions is self contradictory.
2) For a human to make any proposition requires the presupposition of exclusive use over that human's body (private property).
3) Combining 1 and 2 means the only self consistent ethic is private property.

There are a lot of subtilities in his argument that I don't think I have grasped yet. I am not sure I am convinced by his proof of the homesteading right, and I am troubled by the fact that his proof does not seem to offer a justification for the meta-right, the right to enforce your rights by force.
Although I have some concerns about the argument, I am none the less very excited and happy to heave read this paper. I need time to mull this paper and Hoppe's arguments over.


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