Monday, November 17, 2008

Preliminary thoughts on the 7th Commandment

"Thou shall not steal." (Yes, that's the 7th commandment. YMMV.)

  • Things exist.
  • People exist.
  • Some things belong to people.
  • Some things do not belong to anyone.
  • When a thing belongs to a person, that person (the owner) has the exclusive right to disposition the thing.
  • Among the dispositions an owner may select, the owner may abandon the thing.
  • An abandoned thing does not belong to anyone.
  • A person may appropriate a thing that is capable of being owned, and which does not belong to anyone.
  • When a person appropriates a thing, then the person now owns it.
  • Sometimes, justice may dictate that an owner disposition a thing in a particular way.
  • If a person dispositions a thing that belongs to another, then that person has violated the rights of the owner to be the exclusive dispositioner of the thing.
  • If an owner is incapable or unwilling to disposition a thing according to the dictates of justice, then others may be obligated to disposition the thing, even though this violates the exclusive rights of the owner.
  • If a person dispositions a thing that another owns, and the disposition was not dictated by justice, then the person has committed theft.
I hope that by reasoning this way, I can someday come to understand the concept of "usury." We'll see if I ever get there.



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