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KOL268 | Bob Murphy Show: Law Without the State, and the Illegitimacy of IP


Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 268.

I was a guest on Episode 39 of the excellent podcast The Bob Murphy Show, discussing “Law Without the State, and the Illegitimacy of IP (Intellectual Property)”. A few people have told me this particular discussion of IP was one of my best–thorough and systematic. No doubt aided by Bob’s excellent prompting, questions, and guidance.

Bob and I had planned to also discuss argumentation ethics, but the discussion of IP ran longer than we expected so we’ll save AE for next time. [Update: KOL278 | Bob Murphy Show: Debating Hans Hoppe’s “Argumentation Ethics”.]

From Bob’s show notes:

Bob talks with Stephan Kinsella about the basis of libertarian law, and how we could have justice without a coercive State. They then discuss Stephan’s pathbreaking work making the case that property must be in tangible things, rendering “intellectual property” an incoherent and dangerous concept.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Nicholas Kirkpatrick June 10, 2019, 11:31 am

    Name of the opening theme? I want to hear the rest!

  • Dennis New June 13, 2019, 6:15 pm

    You replied to Murphy way back in 2002[1]. How is this issue still unresolved? :S Did Murphy ever answer the questions you posed to him there? For example: “[Do you think that] bashing someone over the head or stealing their wallet is also a form of peaceful, cooperative discourse?”

    It seemed like he simply misunderstood what was meant by “arguing” with someone – it wasn’t clear enough that we mean PEACEFUL discourse. Murphy was awkwardly suggesting that cutting someone’s kidney out, or legs, or anything else besides the brain, or keeping someone as a slave in a cage but still allowing them to talk for a while, would still allow them to argue, and thus be allowed in argumentation ethics. Ie. there was (deliberate?) confusion between simply the technical act of arguing (literally just exchanging ideas), and the admittedly more vague PEACEFUL action as commonly understood by everyone in real life.

    Murphy’s original post also mentioned David Friedman making a similar point: “because countless slaves have engaged in successful argumentation, Hoppe must be wrong when he claims that self-ownership is a prerequisite to debate.” He too deceptively defined “debating” to only mean the narrow technical act of exchanging ideas, even if that meant one’s debating partner was being brutalized in chains. So yea, obviously if you define “argumentation” in such a way as to strip all the normative implications that we seek the argument falls apart – but that takes an effortful misunderstanding of Hoppe.

    Of course, one can understand why Murphy and other religious people are heavily emotionally invested in rejecting such ideas – if ethics could be gotten without God, then there’s not much use for him. The Ten Commandments, all the parables in the Bible, all would have been unnecessary and overly verbose obfuscations of the much more parsimonious ethics of argumentation itself. Jesus didn’t need to die – we would have figured out how to be good (conflict-free) on our own – we didn’t need him. (Except perhaps to jump through extra hoops that don’t have anything to do with inter-human ethics, like “simply believing in some weird dictated things” as an additional prerequisite to get into Heaven.) Murphy is being dishonest by not stating this up front – as a Christian he can never accept argumentation ethics – he is forced to say that only God defines ethics. If a discrepancy is ever found between human derived ethics and his God’s ethics (eg. the tolerance of homosexuality or adultery), so long as he’s still a Christian, he must disagree and side with his God’s rules. He hinted at this at the very end of his post, saying that he already had a better theory of ethics, but he didn’t say what.

    [1] http://www.stephankinsella.com/publications/defending-argumentation-ethics/

    • Stephan Kinsella October 8, 2019, 9:38 am

      We will discuss argumentation ethics in a show being recorded this Friday.

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