-17 votes

The Nutty Professor (Walter Blockhead), Arbitrary Rights, and NAP-headed hoes

Someone call a lawyer, a team of talmudic scholars, a psychoanalyst and a priest. The "rights theorists" are at it again, and no word or meaning is safe. And call the sheriff. Language is wanted as an accessory in the murder of logic.


Block has determined through his incisive reasoning that privacy, outside of that afforded by property, is no right, according to "Libertarian theory." He does not elaborate further.

Presumably rights emerge into nature merely in act of acquiring property. Prior to that their existence is hazy. Like the Big Bang, we don't know how they emerged, but if we start there with a "given" we can spin out a web of supposedly logical conclusions.

Just don't pay any attention to all the shoddy, haphazard assumptions and arbitrary definitions, decisions and determinations these "theorists" rely on to keep the rickety structure glued together.

According to Blockhead, privacy is a right only to the extent that it stems from property. Presumably then, if property fails to provide privacy in the future, then privacy will cease to exist, rightfully and justly.

Consider. If technology develops to a point where anyone can eavesdrop and view anyone else through their walls, from great distance, then per Block, no law could justly be enforced against such intrusion as it is not aggression. Privacy is not a right. It is merely an incidental consequence to the right of property (which is inherent in nature like the laws of physics according to "libertarian theorists").

We are probably not far from the point where personally owned drones can be flown above anyone else's airspace (umm, how much of the air above your property up to the atmosphere is "yours"?). So then the right to privacy thereby vanishes as well? After all, there is no physical aggression involved, so no legal restriction on such spying/intrusion would be justified. That would be aggression against individuals who are not harming anyone.

Of course, we can re-define x-ray or otherwise intrusive cameras as extensions of our bodies, or define them as weapons, I suppose. Pretty arbitrary, but possible. It would be a harder case to make for super-targeted listening devices. I suppose competing soundproofing technology for those who can afford it would be the sole means of defense, since the eavesdropper cannot rightfully be punished legally.

Someone spying into the window of a dressing minor would be morally and legally guilt-free, according to Block and the NAP crowd. No violation of the NAP, no infringement upon anyone's rights (privacy is not a right, remember), therefore no moral or ethical, or legal, violation.

As for airspace over one's property, it has never been either theorized or adjudicated as far as i know.

Perhaps some anarcho-geniuses will explain to us that A PRIORI AXIOMS PROVE that all the airspace over our property, extending into the atmosphere, and in fact infinitely into space time, is the the rightful property of the "homesteader," and that airlines should pay passage fees to anyone who's airspace they fly (trespass) over. Very practical and reasonable, these anarcho-comedians. Thanks for clearing up the real tough issues!

Another example of how this rights business is arbitrary (and hilarious) and involves definitions and decisions that are completely subjective and made up...

Suppose someone follows you around calling your mother a wh0re. Can you slap them in the mouth? Aggression or not? Who's the aggressor?

Don't cheat, no peaking at prior legal precedent churned out by those dens of violence and oppression, known as law courts. This one is tough, it needs to go to direct to the supreme council of anarchocap theorists.

It is arbitrary to say whether it is "aggression" or not, since no blow is struck. Whether this as$hole trails you by 5 feet or shadows your person (ghosts you, in technical parlance) or makes threatening body gestures, makes you uncomfortable, offends you, insults you, or if some bit of his stray spittle is caught by the wind and strikes your person, whether that is aggression and whether at that point you can shoot him or merely punch him in the nose is ALL arbitrary.


Important questions like these can't be left to anyone. Walter Block and other experts on the NAP should be consulted by the hundred thousand drive through, quick-serve, and dine-in arbitration agencies that would flourish under true freedom. (lol)

They need not even ALL necessarily have their own Blackwater agencies enforcing their rulings. Since no right to privacy exists, they can just use the best in modern spying and identification, tracking and biotechnology to observe, report, track, rate and judge the serfs, er, citizens of this new techno-feudalism, and its architecture of enforcing the NAP, without force.

Moving onto more pressing concerns.

In this shining sea of lagoons and lilly pads of freedom, some deserts and dark lagoons will undoubtedly exist. Some might surround completely others. In fact, all will be surrounded by a number of others, by definition.

Let a thousand nations bloom. Also a thousand conflicts, in need of resolution. Let a thousand communities have insufficient access to transportation, waterways, defensible borders. Let many of them be surrounded by hostile communities.

I suppose transportation agencies would also flourish, offering to transport those unfortunate enough to be in between or surrounded by privately owned anarchommunities which don't let others pass. Suppose some open city is surrounded on four sides by a44holes. These rescue air transport agencies would swoop in and fly the stranded sovereign individuals in the dry patch over into a more hospitable community.

This is where we really need the wisdom of the anarcho-geniuses to come in.

Exactly how far into the sky does my property extend? This is no easy question. Only the iron-clad, impenetrable, cold fusion reactors of Logic that are the minds of these theorists can determine such an important question. It carries with it the Fate of all future private drone and air travel Law.

Disregard all previous precedent, and coercive law -- that is all a product of tyranny, force and the bad old days of arbitrary violence.

Libertarian theory needs to define it all anew for us from really smart geniuses like Block, so that private competing arbitration agencies and drive-through courts/judges with protection agency enforcers will determine IMPORTANT questions.

The burning question of how much of the airspace above one's acre lot of property is also one's property, in which one can rightfully launch the nuclear warheads to which all free individuals are entitled, as owner of said private property, with unlimited property rights, needs a logical answer. We are waiting, Block.

People of brain.

Please take the nutty Professor above referenced and his dream team of NAPhead geniuses lightly, like I do. For the sake of your own mental well being. They are anarcho-comedians, good enough for amusement. Little else.

The law is what we decide it should be, and can get enough people to agree to enforce. Because it is REASONABLE for human well being.

Our rights are what we assert them to be, what we decide to demand others respect, and what we can mutually uphold because REASONABLE people agree and throw in with us.

Chuck these nutbags and their jackas$sery from serious conversation, please o pretty please?


Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.



No, none of those things have

No, none of those things have a victim. What is so hard for you to understand? You don't want to be seen undressing? Close your blinds.

At this point I have to say I would bet dollars to donuts you're a misinformation agent. All you ever argue for is MORE gov power! Can it be any more transparent? To quote your other post "the law is what the people decide it is." So you're either a sheep or actively working against the freedom movement. Either way, you're a joke.

"In reality, the Constitution itself is incapable of achieving what we would like in limiting government power, no matter how well written."

~ Ron Paul, End the Fed

trust me no one is paying

trust me no one is paying misinformation agents to counter something that will never remotely be a threat. i.e., anarcho-comedy. it's a threat only to the credibility of libertarianism. watch out for the disinfo agents under ur bed, lol.

just for the record

The bulk of effort from misinformation agents is not to "counter" particular perspectives and ideologies, but to further split factions into more factions.

i think people resort to the

i think people resort to the red herring of imaginary disinfo agents when their positions are not defensible with argument.

after all, even if someone was a disinfo agent, that wouldn't make it any harder to overcome their argument or defend your own. its just the last refuge of someone who has lost the argument.

and its moronic.

I generally agree with you.

and just for the record, I don't believe you are a disinfo agent

and your elaborated point is well taken by me

because frankly, I really wouldn't care if you were an agent as such

...I'm having fun! :D


Watching from across the street through an open window, not a crime. Bad taste, offensive behavior,yes. Not a crime.

Taking photos...not a crime. Selling the photos...crime. You may not use another person's image commercially without their approval. A 10 year old does not have the ability to consent. Passing around the photos for free...I think an argument could be made that that would constitute use of someone's image. Tough issues tend to make bad law.

The guardians of the 10 year old had best teach the child about lowering shades. That pretty much eliminates the problem without creating new laws or new powers on the part of governments to monitor everything we do just in case someone is looking at something we don't want him to be looking at.

Thankfully, our neighbors are unlikely to partake in that kind of behavior. Unfortunately, the government that is supposed to 'protect our privacy' is more than happy to spy, listen, photograph, and record our 10 year olds dressing.

that makes no sense. why

that makes no sense. why would selling the images be a crime? there is no aggression, and no right to privacy. just an arbitrary claim that does not follow from NAP or rights theory of Block. are you a statist?

people don't own the light that reflects off their bodies and captured by a camera. you're appealing to case law, legal precedent established by evil courts of coercion. certainly not block et al's rights theory.

There are libertarians who will make that argument

I have a certain amount of sympathy for the argument that our images do not belong to us. That is not the way our society understands the ownership of images and I choose not to pursue that particular line of argument. There are only so many hours in a day and I can't argue every single point without losing my listener in the weeds of arcane arguments.

I think the 'privacy' debate comes up because governments routinely assert the power to violate property rights, and most people like some of what the government does (like punish child porn). But then, once the principle of property rights is breeched, the people who only wanted certain violations to be allowed find themselves grasping for another argument to put the government-abuse-of-power genie back in the bottle. So they come up with 'privacy rights.' It doesn't work very well.

that's what i said in my

that's what i said in my post. its arbitrary nonsense masquerading as a logically airtight case. because rights don't exist except as legal concepts developed by the people participating in the development of govt and imposing limits upon it. there is no theory that proves this right and refutes that right. if block understood that, he wouldn't end up w the reductio ad absurdum of privately owned nuclear weapons, and legal child p0rn.

I disagree that it is arbitrary nonsense

Libertarian theory goes a very long way in dealing with the vast majority of real human social situations. However, it is asking too much of a theory to explicate fully every imagined nuance and eventuality. That will never happen.

You are asking for a perfectly completed philosophy with no internal contradictions. You are right...it doesn't exist. However, in throwing up you hands and claiming that 'rights don't exist except as legal concepts developed by the people participating in the development of govt,' I think you jump the shark. Rights, or the concept of right action, exist on a moral, legal, and utilitarian plane. Each has their own logic, and each has their own application.

Most libertarians argue from the moral point of view. We are fortunate in that our arguments generally cross over well into the legal and utilitarian planes (unlike socialism, utilitarianism, fascism, communism, etc). However, we are humans struggling with the highly complicated problem of living and we are unlikely to solve every contradiction or uncomfortable situation at every time. There will always be theoretical and practical work to be done in these areas.

first of all, libertarian

first of all, libertarian theory is a weasel word. when block uses the word libertarian theory its just a euphemism. he should be saying anarchy theory or private law theory. hes trying to use word-imperialism to claim the term libertarian, and thereby makes us all look like idiots, who don't subscribe to his retarded beliefs.

i'm not asking for any philosophy, just intellectual honesty and clarity. not arbitrary, magic or religious nonsense, pretending to be logical argument based on incontrovertible truths. my statement about rights is actually true. it does fit the reality.

block's claim is that no right to privacy exists, because he arbitrarily defines rights his own way. this, as i stated, is nonsense.


You clearly do not value philosophical inquiry. Block's writings are lost on you because philosophy is 'magic' nonsense. On the other hand, somehow you magically, on your own, assert a 'right to privacy' without any logical supporting argument. Ok. Whatever.

I've argued with people like you for many years. You want what you want. No supporting argument is needed, just a prima facie "This is right, that is wrong." Why? You have no philosophical basis, just indignation. In your mind, right action and wrong action are whatever you call them...and that is how your society is constructed...and everything is fine until one day Japanese or Jews are locked up in concentration camps and you ask 'how did things ever get this crazy.' You never examine your own unacknowledged philosophy as the possible source of the justification for murder and mayhem done in the name of 'the people,' or 'society.'

The only nonsense is to believe you can put together a free and just society with ad hoc political action. Won't happen. That's exactly how we got to this crazy place we are in today...wars, spying, welfare...all of it justified by the will of the people or the peoples representatives. Hope you like it. It's the society you are arguing for.

yeah, i don't appreciate

yeah, i don't appreciate philosophical inquiry. that's why i have mises' socialism, human action, theory and history, lucretius' de rare naturem, marcus aurelius' meditations, all of the works of f nietzsche, on my ipod at the moment. just as my current stock of books im going through, either for the first time or because i lsiten to them repeatedly over the years.

that's why i was reading plato and aristotle at 14 or 15.

that's why i'm rounding out the 11 voluimes of will durant's complete history of civilization up to the 19th century.

that's why i've read more of rothbard than you ever will, and determined, despite my austrian econ interest, that i disagree with his premises, conclusions and arguments.

you don't like my conclusions, so you sling mud.

take your nonsense elsewhere, buddeh

Don't be too impressed with yourself

My reading list is similar. Walter Block's is probably many times longer than yours. So? I don't care if you're read one book in your whole life...if you're right, you're right. But I disagree with you. I believe you are wrong.

I understand that some people reject the idea of 'natural rights.' Anything that is justified by such concepts is, in their minds, irrelevant. This is a position taken by some very intelligent people. However, I find their positions to be groundless....and that's how we end up with the right to welfare, right to education, right to medical care, and the right to privacy.

i have no more time for you.

i have no more time for you. skeedaddle

wolfe's picture

The first property someone owns...

is themselves. It's a crime because you are using their image by force.

I would also argue that the person that said taking the photos isn't a crime, is wrong.

You are using property(the person) contrary to their wishes and without their permission.

There are honest disagreements about what the NAP covers and what it does not. But at least we have a principle to base our beliefs and can provide arguments as to why we believe it is in line with the NAP or not. Those who choose state rule, invariable depend on emotional arguments about how something makes you feel.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

Would you like everyone to pluck out their eyes?

We can't have people using "your image", without your permission now can we?

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

wolfe's picture


Ridiculous conclusion jumping a new hobby of yours?

Viewing property is not using it. However, making a permanent copy of the image of your property, without your permission, and without regard to the ramifications on your property and selling it, is.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

Recording an image is not a subtractive process.

I hope you don't believe that your soul is stolen when someone takes a photograph of you.

No one is taking anything from you when they take a photograph.

You do not own "your image", you do not own what other people see, just as you do not own your reputation(what other people think).

Would you argue that if someone made a sketch of you they were stealing from you?

Would you argue that a person taking photographs of a police officer was violating the officer's property rights?

How about a photojournalist documenting a sports game?

You have no more right to prevent someone from recording a photograph of you than you do to prevent someone from looking at you.

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

wolfe's picture

We are not talking about a simple image.

We are talking about one taken surreptitiously with mal-intent. Which in fact is what makes it a "subtractive" process to use your line of reasoning.

Let's say it's a hot 19 yr old girl to keep this from getting creepy.

She has taken every reasonable precaution to remain in private, and yet this photo is taken of her. Then the man hands the photo out with the implied lie that she posed for it.

This in fact, causes her to lose her teaching job, fight with her parents, etc etc.

If you can claim that she is not victim, that her personal property (her body) was not used by force, then you are incapable of seeing a bigger picture.

I know your argument. It's the same one that argues pirating isn't a crime. But in order to ignore either of those types of things as crimes, you must ignore the initial unapproved use of property. I do not support IP, and that is a longer discussion I won't go into here.

But you have to ignore something to call it not "subtractive" simply because it doesn't steal her soul or harm her physically.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

I'll ask again.

If you take a picture of a police officer without their permission are you violating their rights?

If a photojournalist takes pictures of athletes at a sporting event is he violating their rights?

If someone makes a sketch of you are they violating your rights?

How has your property been stolen, if you were never deprived of any property?

If someone were to take your picture, what would then be missing that you had before the picture was taken?

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

Depends on if there is

Depends on if there is express or implied consent, as well as damages.

Ventura 2012

wolfe's picture

Do any of these people reasonably believe that...

that they are in private or publicly viewable? If they are doing something publicly in which they have known observers, they have effectively allowed the use of their possession in whatever form that takes.

If that same 19 year old girl, or 10 year old boy did these activities in public, where they had known observers, it would not be a violation of their rights, because they gave permission by being in public.

Would you like to try some more misdirects? The non-subtractive argument as applied to persons, or work is ridiculous and requires ignoring initial violations.

It's akin to saying, he was useless to society, no one knows he's missing, and I disposed of the body, so it's not a crime that I killed him. You can't ignore the initial act and claim that it's ok because no subsequent theft/force occurred.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -


If someone records a photograph of you, what property are you no longer in possession of afterwards?

What is missing?

How has your property been taken from you?

If you are going to continue to ignore this, than this is not worth my time.

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

josh, they are forced to

josh, they are forced to define the picture as property in order to stay consistent in claiming there can be legal consequences in taking and selling it. they can't simply admit that some laws are appropriate even if the persons property was not taken, and no force was used.

they simply add things that aren't property, arbitrarily, such as a nude image.

you seem to be supporting block. no right to privacy exists, an image is not property, no force, no crime. hence you support the right of people to sell images of naked children without interference from the law. it is an insane position, but at least consistent.

wolfe's picture

Do you listen?

"josh, they are forced to define the picture as property"

I have done no such thing. The picture isn't the violated property, the person is.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

no i read. the person was

no i read.

the person was never touched. they may have been half a mile apart. the image is the issue. you're in a deep hole. dig up!

wolfe's picture

You really need to educate yourself.

I have explained in as much detail as any person needs to understand the argument. You can disagree with it by saying:

1) A person does not own themselves.
2) A person does not have a right to control how their body is used.
3) Property doesn't require consent to be used, so long as no harm is done.

But what you are doing is completely ignoring the actual argument in favor of some misunderstandings with the english language and logic.

If you need a more concise explanation, read my comment to MN below.

I am not the one in a hole. You are. If Block is defending the no harm argument, then he is wrong. All libertarians who follow that reasoning have no understanding of the NAP.

I have clearly outlined why the NAP is the ONLY principle affording a right to privacy. Not the other way around.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

i still have no idea what

i still have no idea what your argument is.

how does owning your body, lead to owning a camera shot of your image? you haven't connected those wildly separate dots.

each response is like.. you pretend you already made that connection.

very bizarre.