Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Two – Self-Ownership and Original Appropriation

Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Two – Self-Ownership and Original Appropriation

By Duncan Whitmore

In part one of this five-part series we outlined some preliminary considerations concerning how a libertarian legal system might unfold and develop. We are now in a position to begin exploring the causative events of legal liability in a legal order governed by libertarian prescription.

Prior to considering any specific area of the law such as tort or contract we must explore the ways in which a libertarian legal system will recognise and enforce self-ownership and also the original appropriation of previously ownerless goods.

Technically speaking, the latter topic at least could be covered as part of the law of consent. This concerns the moral imperative that a person should only be liable for the actions that he has undertaken as a voluntary agent – i.e. through his own choice and volition. Both self-ownership and titles over goods allow their owner to not only enjoy the productive services flowing from his body and external goods, but equally and oppositely they burden him with the responsibility of ensuring that, through his actions, those goods do not physically interfere with the person and property of anybody else. Indeed, although law, as understood by libertarians, responds to actions rather than to ownership per se, there is likely to be at least prima facie liability of the owner of property if that property is found to have physically interfered with the person or property of somebody else. Thus, in the same way that it is unjust to physically interfere with someone else’s property, so too is it unjust to hold someone responsible for property that he has not voluntarily asserted control over through his actions. Continue reading

Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part One – What is Libertarian Law?

Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part One – What is Libertarian Law?

By Duncan Whitmore

One of the more fascinating but less discussed areas of libertarian theory is how law and legal systems will operate in a libertarian society. To complete such a survey in its entirety would, no doubt, take a lifetime of study and authorship of one or several treatise-length works. We shall, therefore, be placing a very necessary limit to the scope of this survey by concentrating on where, why and how legal liability would arise in a libertarian society – in other words, our primary question will be what are the causative events that trigger legal liability in a libertarian society, and how will legal bodies develop and apply the law in accordance with libertarian principles? We will not be exploring in too much detail the further questions of legal responses to liability such as punishment, retribution, restitution and so on, nor will we be looking into the question of how competing police and civil or criminal court systems might operate (except, as we shall see below, to contrast them to state-based legislative law-making systems). Even though the treatment of the topic of liability alone will still contain many omissions and areas requiring expansion with more detail, we hope to lay the foundations of how libertarian law might operate.

This first part of this five-part series will examine what law is from a libertarian perspective, how different areas of the law can be categorised, and how legal principles will arise in a libertarian society. Part Two will investigate how libertarian legal systems will recognise self-ownership and the original appropriation of ownerless goods. Parts three and four will explore the laws of consent and of crimes/torts respectively while part five will deal with some miscellaneous but nevertheless significant considerations. Continue reading

“Talking Politics” – Their Last Judgement (Yahoo! News UK)

Sean Gabb

The last judgment

Fri Jul 31 09:31AM

Yesterday saw another little bit of Britain slip away quietly, as the law lords delivered their final judgments in the Lords chamber.

By Alex Stevenson

There was something very British about the whole affair. Something almost pathetic.

Certainly the atmosphere was one of constrained anticipation before the big event. The public gallery was packed, with the queue stretching off and away through the ghostly Palace of Westminster. Inside the chamber, the usually deserted one-row galleries to the sides were full to brimming with as many people as possible seeking to see this little piece of history. There was no vulgar shouting or barging, just polite interest. Utterly British.

Proceedings began as they always have, and will no longer. In trooped the clerks, bewigged and be-robed. Perhaps you could get them to judge whether the latter is a word. In any case they wasted no time in getting proceedings underway, with all rising for the lord chairman to take his seat on the woolsack.

It is with deep shame that this journalist confesses a lack of knowledge to all but the final case. The usual formulas passed by, with each law lord revealing their opinions as they and their predecessors have since – how long? The chief clerk, solemnly bowing between each pronouncement, fiddled absent-mindedly with his white bow-tie. To all intents and purposes it looked like just another day in the office.

But that wasn’t quite true, was it? For prowling the edges of the chamber, appearing insidiously on the steps of the throne and in various galleries, photographers snapped voraciously away. The noble and learned lords studiously ignored their presence as they recorded the demise of parliament’s centuries-old judicial role. Were they ignoring their impending doom? It looked an awful lot like it.

Finally, they came to the Debbie Purdy case, a major news story in its own right. The law lords involved solemnly revealed their intention to force the director of public prosecutions to publish “offence-specific policy” about the case of the right-to-die claimant. There was something fitting about their final judgment resulting in a real shift in the law. It was the law lords at their best.

But it was now over. “My lords, we have delivered our last judgment,” one uttered. “Sadly, our time has come to an end.”

And sad it was indeed, as smiles played over the faces of the wise, implacable ones. This was to be no ground-shaking work of oratory, merely a simple passing away into history. We were told the clerk above the bar had beneath him a Latin inscription to the effect that all things must wrap up.

“We could prolong this session a little longer but the fact is there is nothing left that I can do,” the Last Law Lord bleated.

And that was that: the law lords in the House of Lords rose for the last time, trooping out of the chamber for the final time.

The official sitting in front of me scratched his head thoughtfully, musing on this magnificently understated moment in British history. “I wonder if they’re selling it on DVD?” he pondered.

Talking Politics – Yahoo! News UK