Monday, November 23, 2009

Miscellaneous Weak Humor and Nozick Comments

A belated comment on the Bill Belichick decision to go for it on 4th and 2: The problem is that Belichick didn't trust his punter!

Second point. Despite the title, the Discovery channel program Lobstermen is not nearly as interesting as one might think.

And, finally, related only to some work on Robert Nozick: I found this passage showing a problem with John Locke's requirement on resource acquisition that the person must leave "as much and as good" for others. This passage purports to show that a logical problem or something like a paradox follows from this requirement when we try justly to acquire a natural resource.

How might an initial acquisition be legitimate? Nozick appeals to the Lockean Proviso: Natural resources, such as land, come to be rightfully owned by the first person to appropriate it, as long as she left "enough and as good" for others. Suppose we are talking about a parcel of land. A may appropriate as much land as he wants only if he leaves enough and as good for others. Suppose A takes half, then. Now others come along, and each can appropriate only if she leaves enough and as good for others. So B can take half of the half left by A, C half of the half left by B, D half the half left by C, and so on through the alphabet. It is easy to see that evenutally [sic] there will not be enough left for some person, Z. Z can then complain that X did not leave enough and as good, so X's appropriation was illegitimate. But if so, then Y did not leave enough and as good for X, and so on all the way back up the alphabet to A. This seems to show that it will be impossible to meet the Lockean Proviso, since it will be impossible, no matter how little A takes, to leave "enough and as good" for others.

In fact, there is no logical problem here since Locke could require that one leave "as much and as good" for each individual who also might make use of the resource. Thus, one could only take enough that every other person who might rely on the resource could take that much as well from the remainder. So, if I pick a fruit from a tree, I have to make sure that there are at least as many remaining fruit as there are individuals who might want them. This requirement is hopelessly simplistic and impractical in our society with an indefinitely large number of people who might rely on a resource and the general impossibility, at this point, of sharing the original resource with others. However, I don't see anything paradoxical about the rule.

No comments:

Post a Comment