[ExI] Tessons from Lesla?

Dan danust2012 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 30 23:35:10 UTC 2014

> On Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:34 PM, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
> If you want evidence of my hypothesis, then you can read the
> book. If you like I have an MP3 of it...

Thanks, but I'll look for it and add it to my list. The problem is not availability of the book as such but availability of time and attention to read it. :) (I'm not complaining, but I read about two books a month and listen to another two to four in addition to a lot of other reading and listening. If you saw my paper or electronic stack, you'd see it might take years to get to it.:)

>> For me, as you probably know, a libertarian who is not an
>> anarchist is inconsistent.
> The Leviathan argues that full anarchy leads to unproductive
> violent vendetta circles. I don't think we want to go back
> to that.

That's if you accept the logic and evidence there. On the former, naturally, anarchist libertarians don't accept the logic of Hobbes argument (for a fairly extensive state). On the latter, the evidence seems very questionable with Hobbes mainly relying on his view of civil wars and such.

> Pinker makes similar arguments. Maybe this is utilitarian,
> but damn it, I don't want to have to worry about being
> murdered every time I leave the house.

You have to worry about that now -- unless you've solved the problem of being murdered completely. It's debatable whether you have to worry about less because we live under a government. It also seems to vary much by time and place and not by government. For instance, most of the US has a very low murder rate that seems to have little to do with government while some nations with less policing -- the very thing to prevent violent crime -- have even lower murder rates. Yet nations with more policing have a higher murder rate. (And, to be sure, in the US, it's a mix-up. Some heavily policed areas have very high violent crime and murder rates. In other cases, such as the Old West, there seemed to not have been a very high murder rate until government came in -- the army in particular -- which allowed people to shift from trade to raid: from trading with the Plains Indians and others to simply having them killed or pushed aside for heir lands and resources.)

By the way, I did read Pinker's book and actually read, before his book came out, some his sources, such as _War Before Civilization_. I don't think his case for government -- Pinker accepts the Hobbesian argument -- is as slam dunk as he makes it. (No surprise there!:) I actually touted the book amongst libertarians because I believe, regardless of how they react to his positions and arguments, I think it will shape the debate for the next decade or so. Seems my prediction is coming true. (Don't worry, I've predicted wrong far more than I've predicted right.:)

> The whole purpose of the patent system is to propose a trade.

That's the usual justification. You have to see how well it lives up to that and whether that is a good justification regardless. On the latter, I trust, you would accept an 

argument for chattel slavery because, well, it's for picking cotton and we do love cotton so much, so why not have slaves to pick it? :)

> Yes, you do have infinite ownership of your intellectual
> property under trade secret law. However, to promote the 
> reproduction of productive memes, we will allow you to
> have EXCLUSIVITY on your idea for a period of time if
> you will SHARE the idea with others.
> We do not know how to build a Stradivarius violin today
> because he was protected ONLY by trade secret, and not
> by patent law.

Actually, you're only proposing another form of intellectual property protection here. One might argue, on libertarian grounds, that one can have an expressed contractual relationship that prevents parties to that contract from revealing a trade secret. But that would only be binding on parties to it -- not to outsiders. Also, this would not 

apply in the case that an outside party comes up with the idea, invention, whatever independently. For example, if you invent, say, a new drug independently of some drug company and you have no fiduciary relationship to that company, there'd be, under this view, no recourse to said company saying you stole their trade secret.

Regarding the Stradivarius case, it's an open question what he might have done whether there were patents back then. Of course, the best case -- presuming we value being able to build Strads over the costs of a patent system (or the the injustice of it, if you don't believe in intellectual property) -- would be that he files all his secrets and these are known for posterity. It's definitely an argument in your favor, but one has to be careful it's not like, "Had we offered Stradivarius a trillion dollars today, he'd have shared his techniques, so it's time to grab a trillion dollars from the populace so that they few of us who enjoy Strads can have our way." It doesn't seem like a very libertarian argument, no?

>> I'm not sure that would prevent much here. And the
>> duration of a copyright is much longer.
> The difference is that copyright protection is very
> narrow. You can't outright copy my stuff. Patent law
> protects ANYONE doing the same thing by SIMILAR means.
> It is much broader, and more open to being used for
> evil ends by malicious lawyers.

I think malicious or even non-malicious lawyers have tried to widen the latitude of copyright law enough too.

>> Litigation around copyrights now can be all over the
>> place, with things like song writers being sued for
>> having a melody similar to another song. Doesn't
>> always succeed, of course, and I'm not saying you
>> must either agree with all aspects of current
>> intellectual property law or embrace an anti-IP
>> position.
> It's not perfect either.

Sure. Again, not asking for perfection. And I don't think you are either. Yet it seems the argument is not as strong as you make it to be -- or, to be fair, isn't persuasive to 


>>> and in that case, I will side with Benjamin Franklin,
>>> who has sufficient libertarian and capitalistic
>>> cajones for my purposes.
>> This is an alien way of looking at things to me. I don't
>> seek out a figure from history to rally around. I try
>> to see if an argument has merit, regardless of who made
>> it. In any case, Franklin was somewhat against patents,
>> wasn't he? I've heard that he didn't patent any of his
>> inventions, but I'm not well read on his life.
> He didn't patent SOME of his inventions. The lightning rod,
> for example, because he was more interested in preventing
> house fires than making more money. Could have had 
> something to do with the fact that he was already one
> of the richest men in America at the time.
> My recollection though is that Franklin supported the
> idea of having a patent system. I am not 100% sure of
> this, and my Internet isn't working properly at the
> moment so I'll have to double check this fact at some
> future time.

Then I'm unsure why you raised him up as an example. (And I'm not even sure he could be viewed as even a proto-libertarian (relative to others of his times) from my scant readings of his political views.) I'd been under the impression Franklin wrote some well reasoned pamphlet on the issue that you were referring to. To me, this doesn't appear to be the case. He invented a lot of stuff, dabbled in many things (in some really ingenius ways), but I don't recall him presenting an earth-shattering case for intellectual property. I certainly don't think an anti-IP libertarian is going to quake in their shoes at the mention of Franklin's name. :) Not to mention, again, just because someone popular or famous or considered an intellectual predecessor holds a view doesn't mean one must accept it.


Preview (or don't:) my latest Kindle story, "Born With Teeth," at:
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