Natural Rights Collapse Into Consequentialism

Suppose someone favors restrictions on immigration and regulations on sweatshop labor. Why? I can see a few possible reasons:

  1. This person doesn't agree with the libertarian conception of self ownership, initial property aquisition, the right to exclude etc.
  2. This person doesn't fully grasp the concept of comparative advantage and the astronomical potential gains from trade.
  3. This person has a strong sense of tribalism, and places much greater importance on the welfare of people within the tribe than outside the tribe.

Given these three possibilities, I see #2 as the easiest and most likely path to lead to successful persuasion. The only response to #3 is shaming and ridicule. #1 has many points of failure, as the chain of argument is lengthy and complex, and many links in that chain are extremely weak without resorting to some sort of consequentialist underpinnings. For example, David Schmidtz asks "how [could we] justify any institution that recognizes a right to exclude"?

The way Judith Thomson puts it, if “the first labor-mixer must literally leave as much and as good for others who come along later, then no one can come to own anything, for there are only finitely many things in the world so that every taking leaves less for others”

[...]

Original appropriation diminishes the stock of what can be originally appropriated, at least in the case of land, but that is not the same thing as diminishing the stock of what can be owned. On the contrary, in taking control of resources and thereby removing those particular resources from the stock of goods that can be acquired by originally appropriation, people typically generate massive increases in the stock of goods that can be acquired by trade. The lesson is that appropriation typically is not a zero-sum game. It normally is a positive sum game. As Locke himself stressed, it creates the possibility of mutual benefit on a massive scale. It creates the possibility of society as a cooperative venture.

The argument is not merely that enough is produced in appropriation’s aftermath to compensate latecomers who lost out in the race to appropriate. The argument is that the bare fact of being an original appropriator is not the prize. The prize is prosperity, and latecomers win big, courtesy of those who got here first. If anyone had a right to be compensated, it would be the first appropriators.

This is the argument for property rights. This is the only good argument for property rights. At it's base, it is a consequentialist argument. If property rights - the right to exclude - were not the precondition for good consequences, they would not be justified. Intellectual property, better described by Tom Bell as Intellectual Privilege, offers a perfect example of this, as it is so clearly artificial. Intellectual Privileges to exclude others from use are only justified to the extent that these exclusions "promote[s] the Progress of Science and useful Arts". To the extent that they exclude more than they promote, they are not justified.

So dealing with problem #1 requires dealing with problem #2. Why not just cut out the middle man and start from economics?

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It starts with flawed

It starts with flawed assumptions from the start

Yes, that is the assumption that the author, David Schmidtz, is arguing against. Judith Thomson is offered as representative of holding a common but flawed position on the Lockean proviso.

For instance, why should one care about massive production of goods? Maybe the person you are trying to make this argument to values the hunter gatherer lifestyle.

Consequentialism is not necessarily concerned with the massive production of goods; it is concerned with the flourishing of people's lives on their own terms. Do people who value the hunter/gatherer lifestyle have a need for property and the right of exclusion? Perhaps not in a world of abundance, but we no longer live in such a world (assuming we ever did). Hunter/gatherers need to find a way to get along with people who don't value the hunter/gatherer lifestyle, and generally these non-hunter/gatherers have bigger guns.

Tribalists Against Sweatshops?

"Suppose someone favors restrictions on immigration and regulations on sweatshop labor. Why? I can see a few possible reasons: 3) This person has a strong sense of tribalism, and places much greater importance on the welfare of people within the tribe than outside the tribe."

Why the hell would those in group 3) be naturally against sweatshops? Why conclude that is shaming and ridicule YOUR only option?

What is wrong with putting much greater importance on the welfare of those within the tribe than those outside the tribe? As an individualist you put much greater importance on your welfare than those who are not you. Why does this become something worthy of shame and ridicule when done by a wider group?

Your body is just a collective of cells. Do you think that those cells should abandon their nature and stop placing more importance on cells that are members of that collective than not? Should they just let bacteria move in and convert your society of cells to the nature of that of a bacteria colony?

Are you using shame and ridicule for consequentialist reasons? If so then why not use it on subgroups of those in categories 1) and 2). You could pick on young girls, kids with acne, etc.

I'll clue you in on one thing. "Tribalists" don't give a shit about your ridicule and shame. In fact, I think they'd turn this right around on you. Do you think that shame and ridicule is going to cure you of what they would consider your particular perversions? If it wouldn't work on you when you are in fact more vulerable to it then why would it work on them. They are mainstream, and you aren't so they have a lot more individuals to enforce such shame and ridicule.

Of course I don't find your particular breakdown very convincing. It's of the same caliber as those kinds of arguments that go "There are two kinds of people, ..."

Why the hell would those in

Why the hell would those in group 3) be naturally against sweatshops?

Think of the union groups who oppose sweatshops for self-interested, and not benevolent reasons. Creating new labor standards in foreign economies and restricting free trade may artificially inflate union wages, at the expense of foreign wages and domestic consumers.

What is wrong with putting much greater importance on the welfare of those within the tribe than those outside the tribe?

Because I share nothing more in common and have no greater relationship with a highly-rural WASP living in Wasilla, Alaska than I do with the Mexicans who live two miles away from me on Buford Highway and don't speak a word of English. The distinction between the two is completely arbitrary. There is no "tribe" here.

"Tribalists" don't give a shit about your ridicule and shame.

Sure they do. They are very self-conscious about it, and either resort to anonymity or constant whining mixed with bravado about being so hardcore politically incorrect. Seems like ridicule and shame are working just fine as intended.

Do you think that shame and ridicule is going to cure you of what they would consider your particular perversions?

Sure, if I was born into a society that considered black people somewhat less than human, I would be very unlikely to buck that trend. Thankfully, I was not born into such a society.

Tribalists?

So you weren't actually speaking of tribalists. Such as those in Somalia, Papua New Guinea, or northern Pakistan.

Again, those in unions are going to laugh at your shaming. Those who don't believe in illegal immigration will do the same, and especially if you call them "triabalists". LOL.

Also Somalia is suppose to be an anarchists paradise and they are in fact tribalist, and do limit immigration based on kinship. So anarchism will get you LESS of what you desire.

It is a problem of scale

Rules that are OK for a family (blood being thicker than water) may not be OK for a tribe.

Rules that worked well in the Scandinavian countries when they were 99% Swedish (Norse, Danish . . . ), 99% Lutheran, and 99% white stopped working so well when outsiders were permitted to enter. Japan was (is?) a virtual police but the people loved and trusted their government.

Comment on: You forgot a

Comment on:

You forgot a fourth reason why people might oppose lax immigration laws: people generally have a preference for living near others who share their culture, language, and values, especially in a world governed by democracies.

Micha: "Do I share more in common with highly-rural WASPs living in Wasilla, Alaska or with the Mexicans who live two miles away from me on Buford Highway and don't speak a word of English? Answer: I prefer the Mexicans."

and

What is wrong with putting much greater importance on the welfare of those within the tribe than those outside the tribe?

Micha: "Because I share nothing more in common and have no greater relationship with a highly-rural WASP living in Wasilla, Alaska than I do with the Mexicans who live two miles away from me on Buford Highway and don't speak a word of English. The distinction between the two is completely arbitrary. There is no "tribe" here."

Allegiances can be based on various commonalities: Relatedness, class, culture, religion, political orientation, sexual preferences, music tastes, etc. Just because you don't place any importance on some of these commonalities, it doesn't mean they don't exist.

If it is acceptable to care comparatively more about family members than strangers (relatedness), or humans than birds (likeness), why is it not acceptable to preferentially care about individuals with whom you share other kinds of commonalities?

If it is acceptable to care

If it is acceptable to care comparatively more about family members than strangers (relatedness), or humans than birds (likeness), why is it not acceptable to preferentially care about individuals with whom you share other kinds of commonalities?

What are the important interpersonal commonalities shared by two people living in the same nation-state? If I believe nation-states are illegitimate, inefficient, artificial constructs, why should I have any respect for people who think nation-states somehow justify preferential in-group/detrimental out-group behavior?

This is the argument for

This is the argument for property rights. This is the only good argument for property rights. At it's base, it is a consequentialist argument. If property rights - the right to exclude - were not the precondition for good consequences, they would not be justified.

Lest any non-consequentialist get upset about this designation of their moral system as unjustified, worry not. Quick fix to justify your beliefs in this framework: define "good consequences" as "respecting the rights you think exist."

Ergo:

1. Only good consequences justify rights.
2. A good consequence is, let's say, people being able to use their property in line with the harm principle.
3. Property rights are justified.

Voila. Neither utility nor economic efficiency need be mentioned.