Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

'free commercial exchanges' have co-evolved with very complex cultural, legal, technological systems.

if you had to explain to an alien what happens when you go to a store and exchange a piece of paper for a candy bar and get some paper and metal back, you'd be there for a long time and have to explain much of human history and civilization.

'which laws govern' i.e. are naturally imposed and who is 'imposing [somehow unnatural] laws and regulations', seems to be largely in the eye of the beholder.

the idea any of this happens in a state of nature seems naive.




if you had to explain to an alien what happens when you go to a store and exchange a piece of paper for a candy bar

No you wouldn't. It's screamingly obvious that barter is an inefficient system since the chance that your desires exactly coincide with my output are low. The notion of using an abstraction as a medium of exchange is ancient; the advent of paper money, credit and so on is simply the consequence of institutional awareness eclipsing physical instantiation, ie accepting the idea of a bank as a persistent and reliable entity as opposed to shaving gold coins and hoping the next recipient doesn't notice.


I've read a lot about money and I don't think anyone really understands it. I certainly don't. Negative interest rates shocked a lot of people. People even argue about whether cutting interest rates makes money worth more or less. If it's all screamingly obvious, write a good explanation and win the Nobel Prize...


Agreed. Property itself is not natural but imposed by force via governance. The entire system of finance has always existed by coercion of non-participants.


Rubbish. Many animals are territorial; once they find a patch of land they like they consider it to be theirs and will use force to either defend to acquire it. This is true at the genetic level in many cases; for example, kittens prefer to stick with a particular nipple when nursing from their mother and resist efforts at encroachment by their siblings: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19259990

You seem to imagine the state of nature is one of carefree mutualism or somesuch, which is self-evidently not the case. Eusocial animals (which I consider to include humankind) are if anything more competitive than lone or pack animals.


Property is artificial. In "nature", one must constantly be prepared to defend one's territory, with no recourse to assistance from others.

In a governed society, one generally does not face constant attacks against one's territory, and when those attacks do happen (much less often), one has recourse to automatic assistance in defending it, with the threat represented by that automatic assistance acting as an effective deterrent to attacks.


The alternative is "might makes right", where you give up anything you have to others through coercion.


This is nonsense. Many non-human animals are territorial. Is that nest a community nest, or does it belong to a specific group of birds until they're done with it? Similarly, some non-human animals have organized systems that maintain cultural norms (like punishing individuals who steal).

I don't understand this libertarian appeal to nature. Surely we can do better than the drunken walk of evolution that has led to present day "nature".


> Many non-human animals are territorial. Is that nest a community nest, or does it belong to a specific group of birds until they're done with it?

Territory is very different from property. Territory is something you defend. Property is something society agrees to defend for you.


A specious definition, unworthy of you. Dogs demonstrate preferences for particular toys; squirrels will defend a cache of nuts; ant colonies manage herds of aphids. A property interest can be invested in an object or in a piece of territory and I dispute your claim that they are somehow fundamentally different, but contend instead that property consists of any resource over which one has and anticipates retaining control.


I'm not saying it's fundamentally different in the sense of animals not having having an instinct to control objects. Property takes that instinct and adds to it a layer of organized coercion to enforce possessory interests.

(I guess I kinda missed the context of the post a bit further up, which suggests there isn't a possessory instinct in nature, which is obviously incorrect.)


That certainly makes more sense. If it makes my argument clearer, I'm asserting that the possessory instinct is natural and that the organizational factors themselves have a biological basis, in that we replicate the basic organizational structure of our bodies in similarly specialized institutional form.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm increasingly drawn to the conclusion that those who argue most intensely for certain ideological positions are the least comfortable with the idea that our social structures may be biologically determined or could be subject to biological analysis.


Where would they come from if not a biological basis? Magic? Divine inspiration?


Being uncomfortable with something is not the same as denying it. Furthermore, it's also possible to acknowledge something as true and not accept the logical consequences, however inconsistent that may be.


it's also possible to acknowledge something as true and not accept the logical consequences

Who's talking about "possible"? Any ignorant position is "possible".


The point is that it's a difference in degree, not a qualitative difference. It's true that we are the only animal capable of passing written law. That doesn't mean other animals don't have property. A silverback's nest or mate is his property, by all definitions that matter in gorilla society. This is recognized by all members, and all members know there the penalties if the rules aren't respected.

Our property laws grew from these exact ways of thinking. Property is natural.


The idea that we can ever not be in a state of nature seems like the naive one to me.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: