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KOL178 | Emancipated Human Interview: Corporations, Intellectual Property, and more

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Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 178.

I appeared on Emancipated Humans, with host Luis Fernando Mises (Feb. 24, 2015 episode).

 

Related Writing

Corporate Personhood, Limited Liability, and Double Taxation
In Defense of the Corporation
Legitimizing the Corporation
Causation and Aggression” (with Patrick Tinsley)

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Dennis New March 2, 2015, 3:32 pm

    I don’t understand how someone who hires an assassin is also guilty or responsible for the killing. The assassin, as a human being with free will, acted alone and entirely voluntarily. Surely it is non-sensical to blame another person for your own fully-conscious actions? The person doing the hiring was merely talking. (Exchanging money or ideas is merely speech.)

    • Stephan Kinsella March 2, 2015, 4:48 pm

      Dennis, or whatever your name is (“New” sounds like a nym), why do you assume it’s A or B? Why not A and B both liable? Cooperation is possible after all.

      • Dennis New March 2, 2015, 4:56 pm

        Because A (the person hiring) didn’t /do/ anything — ethics only applies to actions/behaviours, and A simply spoke. I suppose even if he cooperated more directly (eg. perhaps acted as a getaway driver), that action (driving) is not unethical.

        Is there some reason that you feel it is necessary to extend liability? Is there some case that, without it, you feel would not result in satisfactory justice?

        • Stephan Kinsella March 2, 2015, 5:02 pm

          Dennis, did you ever read the linked material–by me, Rothbard, etc.? Do you really want me to explain it again here?

          • Dennis New March 2, 2015, 5:11 pm

            I have heard most of your podcasts, and remember you talking about this issue a few times, although I don’t remember any convincing arguments. I will review the linked material and see if I missed anything. I appreciate your time and patience :).

          • Dennis New March 2, 2015, 8:11 pm

            Your article “Causation and Aggression” does address this issue, but I think it is flawed. You claim that the chain of causality can be linked back to the person doing the hiring because he is “an actor deliberately choosing and employing means for the purpose of attaining a desired end.” The flaw is in the phrase “employing means” — this cannot apply to free-willed beings, only to non-volitional tools. The moment volition enters the picture, to the extent that the being has volition, the chain of responsibility breaks. To claim the opposite is to imply that I can control the other person; that they do not have free will.

            As I mentioned before, the person doing the hiring is merely speaking — granted it is heinous speech, but speech nevertheless. Your argument probably fails on this ground too: speech should not be considered “action”. That would put you on an extremely slippery slope.

            In the short “Rothbard on Corporations” article, he was quoted as saying “let liability […] rest only upon those at fault, i.e., those actually damaging the persons and property of others.” It may be ambiguous, but I think that says it best. The emphasis should be on the word “actually”.

          • Stephan Kinsella March 2, 2015, 9:16 pm

            “Your article “Causation and Aggression” does address this issue, but I think it is flawed. You claim that the chain of causality can be linked back to the person doing the hiring because he is “an actor deliberately choosing and employing means for the purpose of attaining a desired end.” The flaw is in the phrase “employing means” — this cannot apply to free-willed beings, only to non-volitional tools.”

            Why? Are you assuming cooperation is not possible?

            “The moment volition enters the picture,”

            What does this even mean–“enters the picture”?

            ” to the extent that the being has volition, the chain of responsibility breaks.”

            But this way of wording it presupposes that there can only be A or B as the cause. It presupposes A and B cannot be jointly responsible. It assumes there is no joint responsibility. This is quesiton-begging.

            “As I mentioned before, the person doing the hiring is merely speaking”

            Your “merely” is way of question-begging. This is disingenuous.

            I have given several unambiguous, clear examples that controvert your theory here. For example Hitler ordering the killing of the Jews, Truman ordering the dropping of the A-Bomb on Japan, a captain of a firing squad saying “ready, aim, fire”.

            ” — granted it is heinous speech, but speech nevertheless.”

            So the hell what? Libertarians are not for “speech” per se. You are sounding like a modern ACLU liberal. Grow up.

            “Your argument probably fails on this ground too: speech should not be considered “action”. That would put you on an extremely slippery slope.”

            And we all know that we have to avoid slippery slopes, right? It’s just an axiom of amateur theorizing!

          • Dennis New March 3, 2015, 5:16 am

            It sounds like we’re both question-begging and simply asserting our fundamental positions. Me, Walter Block (except for his exception when money is transacted) and Rothbard(?) all seem to think that “inciting others to commit a crime is not a crime”.

            In “Causation and Aggression”, you say that an intervening force only breaks the causal connection when it is /unforseeable/. I think you should reconsider what “forseeable” means. It does not (should not) simply mean one-of-many possible outcomes that you can predict, regardless of their probability. And how can you determine the probability of a free-willed being performing an action? Can you sincerely say that he is 99% likely to perform it? 50%? You are implying that you can foresee the future, that you can foresee an assassin’s actions, that he is deterministic.

            In the midget-in-a-tank example in that essay, since the midget was fully aware of the situation and the one /actually/ performing the actions (at the spoken behest of the remote malcontent), I think that he should be the only one legally responsible. (The person operating the remote control can still be ostracized, etc.)

            Similarly, I do not think that Hitler, Truman or firing squad captains (assuming they didn’t kill or hurt anyone directly themselves), should be held legally responsible. Talking is not an act of aggression. (Here is another fundamental disagreement that we have. You think it can be — eg. in direct threats of violence. I’m not sure how far down this slippery slope you go — but many modern-day Social Justice Warriors would consider hate speech to be aggression.)

          • Stephan Kinsella March 3, 2015, 10:59 am

            “It sounds like we’re both question-begging and simply asserting our fundamental positions.”

            I’m not question-begging at all, but I’ll let you speak for yourself.

            “Me, Walter Block (except for his exception when money is transacted) and Rothbard(?) all seem to think that “inciting others to commit a crime is not a crime”.”

            Walter has other exceptions too: (a) if there is “a contract” (whatever that means), (b) if A coerces B, and (c) if there is “a conspiracy” (whatever that means). The problem is these are ad hoc and not defined or justified.

            “In “Causation and Aggression”, you say that an intervening force only breaks the causal connection when it is /unforseeable/”

            I don’t remember saying exactly that. My guess is you are reformulating something i said into some kind of general rule that I never stated. The hallmark of the amateur.

            “Similarly, I do not think that Hitler, Truman or firing squad captains (assuming they didn’t kill or hurt anyone directly themselves), should be held legally responsible.”

            THANK YOU FOR ADMITTING THIS. This is the end result of this bizarre line of reasoning. Try justifying this to ANYONE. By your reasoning here, a female Jewish inmate force to work as Hitler’s maid would be unjustified in killing Hitler in his study if she had the chance. Think about this, son–your entire line of reasoning is obviously ethically bankrupt. Think what it leads to: a Jewish concentration camp inmate who kills Hitler is …. guilty of murder. Seriously. Seriously. Can you really be serious.

            “Talking is not an act of aggression.”

            Well that settles it then!

      • Dennis New March 4, 2015, 6:48 pm

        Sarcasm and appeals to popularity are not arguments. Nor was the secret midget-in-a-tank example in your similar (failed) attempt at reductio ad absurdum. All these attempts are merely assertions and question begging — you simply assert that some speech/exchange-of-thoughts can punishable, and I assert the opposite.

        Regarding the Hitler-maid example, I believe you are caught up in your own strawman. I specifically stated the assumption that Hitler didn’t hurt anyone directly himself. I haven’t researched the topic, but I find that hard to believe to actually be the case. In other words, I believe your shock is due to the unlikelihood of his innocence, rather than the absurdity of the argument that speech ought never be punished. I would also find it incredibly hard to believe that a firing squad captain wouldn’t have hurt innocent people in his rise up his career ladder.

  • Stephan Kinsella March 5, 2015, 2:07 am

    “Regarding the Hitler-maid example, I believe you are caught up in your own strawman. I specifically stated the assumption that Hitler didn’t hurt anyone directly himself.”

    Yes. Everyone in the world realizes that Hitler did not “directly” hurt the Jews etc. He used intermediaries. Yet all these people have no problem with the notion that Hitler is responsible–and that if a Jewish inmate could have killed him, that would have been justifiable, and not murder. You, OTOH, have to say Hitler is innocent. Congratulations for making the worst argument ad absurdum in history.

    “I haven’t researched the topic, but I find that hard to believe to actually be the case. In other words, I believe your shock is due to the unlikelihood of his innocence, rather than the absurdity of the argument that speech ought never be punished. I would also find it incredibly hard to believe that a firing squad captain wouldn’t have hurt innocent people in his rise up his career ladder.”

    well that’s a comfort!

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