Self-ownership is another imaginary right. No human society has ever treated people as their own inviolate property. Even if self-ownership was only an aspirational goal, it could not be implemented for children or incompetents. Libertarians frequently base their philosophy on this imagined right. In modern society, persons have "body rights": they do not own their bodies, but do have limited property rights in them. Libertarians also confuse possession with ownership.
- Body Rights As Limited Property Rights [More...]
- Chapter 3.2 of Stephen Munzer's "A Theory of Property". Persons have "body rights": they do not own their bodies, but do have limited property rights in them. "Too many incidents are lacking to say that individuals own their bodies." A few pages are not available.
- Against Utilitarianism and Self-Ownership Defenses of Libertarianism [More...]
- "Utilitarianism is too consequence-sensitive and self-ownership is too consequence-insensitive."
- Libertarian Delusions: Exposing the Flaws in Libertarian Thinking [More...]
- Identifies problems with self-ownership, the idea of eliminating politics, the public choice viewpoint and blanket opposition to state action.
- Markets in Organs (3 links)
- Society is very leery of creating markets for organs, for very good reasons. Many libertarians (following ideological dictates of Self-Ownership and Market Fundamentalism) think organ markets should be unregulated.
- Reading The Ethics of Liberty, Part 3 – Rothbard’s Confusion About Self-Ownership [More...]
- "Rothbard proceeds to argue in the chapters that follow as if he had established the normative claims of self-ownership and ownership of external goods. Indeed, his entire understanding of the free society is based on these concepts. And so, the oversight here is not a minor one. It is, instead, absolutely fatal."
- Reading The Ethics of Liberty, Part 4 – Rothbard’s Second Argument for Self-Ownership [More...]
- " Rothbard’s argument for self-ownership, I will argue, reveals a basic mistake in his understanding of the concept of property – a mistake that plagues not only a great deal of Rothbard’s thought on the subject, but that of many other libertarians as well."
- Rothbard as a philosopher [More...]
- Conservative philosopher Edward Feser says: "he seems incapable of producing even a minimally respectable philosophical argument, by which I mean an argument that doesn't commit any obvious fallacies or fail to address certain obvious objections." Ouch! Rothbard's argument for self-ownership is dissected.
- Rothbard revisited [More...]
- Conservative philosopher Edward Feser rebuts Gerald Casey's defense of Murray Rothbard.
- Self-Ownership Theses [More...]
- "... we can see from the foregoing that the apparent simplicity and determinacy of the self-ownership principle is likely illusory."
- Sobel’s New Argument Against Self-Ownership [More...]
- "Sobel argues that SO [Self-Ownership] is implausible because it cannot differentiate between normatively significant and normatively insignificant impingements on other people’s bodies."
- The road from libertarianism [More...]
- How philosopher Edward Feser abandoned libertarianism because of the problems with self-ownership.
The more sophisticated libertarian philosophers -- Robert Nozick for example -- tend to build their libertarianism on extremely vague statements that command a high degree of acceptance in our society: for example, “individuals own their own bodies.” Now it is worth noting that, while this is a pretty uncontroversial claim in any Western democracy [...] Large numbers of people through history have believed, and still believe, that women, children, black people, kulaks, slaves and so on did not own their own bodies.
James Boyle, "Foucault in cyberspace -- Chapter 2: Libertarianism, Property and Harm" pg. 21.
[Libertarians] are pulling some very thick conclusions out of some very thin premises, giving them the attitude to find in "self-ownership" whatever they were looking for.
Barbara Fried, "Left-Libertarianism: A Review Essay"
[W]e have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
George Orwell, "Review of Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell"
To tell a poor man that he has property because he has arms and legs -- that the hunger from which he suffers, and his power to sleep in the open air are his property, -- is to play upon words, and to add insult to injury.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, "What Is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government", pg 61.