Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's my banana, not yours!

The video below was made several years ago by youtube user Stefbot, who appears to have some influence over wayward Objectivists among others.

Stef's video is called, "A Proof of Property Rights" but it may as well be called "A Rationalization Against Intellectual Property".

Let's crack it open and see if we can't nudge the wayward back in the direction of reason:


1. “Consistency is preferred to inconsistency.” @1:00

The Function: Regurgitation of the Law of Identity, diluted with the vomit of whatever else was in the stomach, in order not to run off non-Aristotelians and to be familiar enough to Aristotelians.  

The Translation Into Real English: It's best to assume that A is A, but we don't really know that for sure, it's just that we cannot claim to know anything at all or make arguments if we assume that things are in metaphysical flux all the time. In other words, the mind is not trustworthy, but we have to trust it because it is all we have. Axioms are more preference, than axioms.

2. “The principle of the argument includes the argument." @2:28

Function: The first premise, now cut off from reality leads us to this distorted way of speaking. Again, reinforced is a distancing from the source of these ideas as to make a later sleigh of hand more palatable.

Translation: Regurgitation of Rand's "Fallacy of the Stolen Concept", which is known by 
non-Objectivists as "the self-refuting Idea", which Stefbot then re-brands as "self-detonating" as if this was his own special observation in the annex of the history of philosophy.
3. Example of "Governments need to resolve disputes". @7:00

Explanation: Getting into the meat here, after offering valid examples of “stolen concepts” Stefbot states that, "Governments need to resolve disputes." is an example of “self-detonation”. 

What does Stef mean by "disputes"? Disputes about what? Well, government is force, and disputes are reason. Therefore we cannot solve the problem of disputes by force. This is a self-refuting idea, right? 


Because not all disputes are of "reason". Disputes could often arise between force and reason, whether government existed or not. In this case, there cannot be a "reasonable" resolution to the dispute, only a forcible one, by either the aggressor or victim.

There may be a dispute between two reasonable parties, and there is a peaceful resolution, but the moment a thug wanders by there is no way to resolve the dispute he brings without violence. He is not open to reason.  So there needs to be action taken to resolve the conflict. If we agree with “self-ownership” then this person had no right bring violence into the equation. So how to resolve the violence? Where does this leave us now? 

The conclusion to draw is not about government, it is that force is inherently monopolizing. Acontextually speaking, whom the force is wielded by makes no difference. Whether it is that thug wandering by, or a local gang, or the government, or competing security firms under anarcho-capitalism. The result is that force is monopolizing and whoever wields the most force "wins".

But force can exist in varying contexts. Self-defense is different from the initiation of force. And when we recognize that the initiation of force is possible to men, then by reason what mechanism do we enact to deal with it? 

Thus the function of this obfuscation is revealed, the attempt to wipe-out the idea of  "Government as plausible mechanism to protect individual rights and adjudicate objective law." .

4. Claiming the invalidity of "Self-ownership" as an example of “self-detonation”. @7:45 E.g., He is exercising control over his own body to argue that it is impossible to exercise control over his own body.

Explanation: This is not what "he" is doing. Stef would have to define his terms to show the claim above, but he doesn't. We have to deweasel this example and translate it into what he is trying to ultimately undercut: Self-ownership as the right to one's own life. 

The fact that one believed that they did not have a right to their own life does not prevent them from using their “own” body to speak.  As others may use his “own” body, he may use it too. And in this particular moment, the individual is using it to make a claim about self-ownership. Thus, making a statement about a non-belief in rights by using your own body (although wrong) is not a self-refuting idea.  

Now, if Stefbot had made this argument from the premise of the MIND and not the BODY, THEN it would follow. As it stands, it does not.

So, why does he deliberately substitute “body” for “mind”? Can you guess?

The following video is a response by , which may further elucidate problems with this argument. bitbutter is under the assumption that Stef's proof was intended to be axiomatic instead of axiom evading. Nonetheless, the rest of his argument stands, that as defined Stef is equating property with possession.

Of course, Stef has to do this, because not doing so would suggest that there is more to property rights than just "physical" existence.

5. "Property is Theft" @8:40

Explanation: For the same reason as topic four, five is also not a self-refuting idea. Or rather, it is not a self-refuting idea for the reasons Stef explains. It IS a self-refuting idea for OTHER reasons.

Again, we have to define our terms because Stef won’t do it. What does the concept of “theft” mean? To steal. But if there is no "property" to steal, it cannot be stolen. The concept of theft can only exist if we accepted the validity of property. Otherwise, what is taken is not stolen. It was never anyone's to begin with, everything is up for grabs and no one should have any reason to be outraged.

6. “I use my vocal cords or fingers to create an argument which I am responsible for.” @10:00

Really? That is what you used? It is surprising that I have never had an argument with a gorilla then. 

What is the key element being left out here?

You guessed? So why does he substitute the the word “body” in place of the word “mind”?

Because if he were consistent about this topic his whole attempt to manifest “property rights” without reference to the intellect would fall apart. And then, well...we'd have to give intellectual property a fair shake, then wouldn't we?

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