Van Dun on Freedom and Property: A Critique

By Block, Walter E. | Libertarian Papers, January 2010 | Go to article overview

Van Dun on Freedom and Property: A Critique


Block, Walter E., Libertarian Papers


THE THESIS OF VAN DUN (2009) (1) is that there is a conflict between freedom and property rights, and that libertarians ought to side with the former. If not, people, many people, will likely starve to death by being trapped in their houses, unable to get out of them, or, caught outside of them, without the ability to return home. This is unjust, and hence unlibertarian, since such people will in effect be imprisoned, without being found guilty of any crime, indeed, without even having been accused of perpetrating any illegal action.

This sad state of affairs will come about (VD) asserts, if the libertarian emphasis on private property rights is fully implemented. How so? If the non-aggression principle (NAP) of libertarianism is adhered to, private road owners will be able to charge the veritable "arm and a leg" to homeowners for access and egress. These capitalists will thus be empowered to trap individuals in their homes, prevent them from returning there unless they pay large fees, and/or forbid such movement outright. The highway corporations would have every right to impinge upon the freedom to travel of their clients, since, in the libertarian society, all property, including roads, would be privately owned, and the proprietors of these vehicular passageways would have every right to charge price they wished, up to and including an infinite price, which would be equivalent to out right prohibition. They could engage in this sort of encirclement, or as I (Block, 2008) have characterized this problem, as "entrapment." (2)

VD is a well written article. Hence, the author's thesis is crystal clear, and there is little danger of misinterpretation. His vision of the Quasi-Earth, populated by creatures just like us, only they are all libertarians, is inspiring. His depiction of such a society is highly accurate as it focuses on the twin pillars of libertarianism: the non-aggression axiom or principle (NAP) and private property rights based on homesteading (Locke, Rothbard, Hoppe.) He states VD (224-25, footnote deleted):

   Thus, unlike us Earthlings, the Quasi-Earthlings (1)
   unconditionally respect every person's rights of self-ownership,
   private appropriation of unowned resources, unrestricted
   noninvasive use his own property, and exchange by mutual consent,
   and (2) unconditionally abide by the nonaggression principle when
   it comes to dealing with interpersonal problems. In other words,
   there is no crime and every property owner is free to do with, to,
   and on his property whatever he likes provided his actions have no
   significant physical effects on others or their properties.

However, I cannot fully buy my way into VD's thesis. What obstacles stand in the way of our agreement?

1. Freedom

Although VD nowhere in his essay explicitly defines "freedom," it is clear what he means by this, the right to come and go as one pleases. States VD (230):

   there is need to have a "free movement" proviso regarding ownership
   of material resources, to the effect that the rights of a property
   owner do not include the right to deprive others of the possibility
   of moving between their own property and any place where they are
   welcome.

But this "freedom" is not at all the negative right not to have one's person or property free from external aggression. Rather, it is the positive right, beloved of our friends on the left, to be able to utilize the property belonging to other people, for our own ends, without their permission. (3) If freedom from hunger means the right to force other people to feed you at their expense, and freedom from nakedness implies the right to compel others to clothe you, again at their expense, then VD's freedom to travel, or his "free movement proviso" obligates others to make available to the recipient a "route" as part of a "right of way network" which includes "seas, (uninhabited or uncultivated land) and streets, roads, canals," and, presumably, highways, byways, roads, avenues, lanes and other vehicular traffic arteries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Van Dun on Freedom and Property: A Critique
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.