Reply To: Life and Property


Do people have a right to protect their property by shooting at trespassers on sight? I believe Hoppe wrote that that sort of aggression is not congruent with defense of property. I would have to agree. Ultimately, however, it is the community that decides this–I’m not sure “natural rights” address these gray areas. Even with negotiating, the property owner has the final say–he may be persuaded by discomfort to compromise, I suppose. A scenario in which property owners chase someone off their properties until the trespasser dies of exhaustion does not sound moral to me. That may sound extreme and unlikely but, with refugees, I suppose it applies somewhat. Perhaps life takes precedence over material/land property and freedom as a natural right; and, therefore, a system of containing those that are not accommodated freely would exist through private contract to satisfy this dilemma. Rothbard and Block, if I understand it correctly, address abortion as a means of evicting a “trespasser.” I find this morally repugnant and, indeed, an assault on natural rights. I suppose that my philosophy is life first; and, indeed, that there is a hierarchy of natural rights. Perhaps I would put it as: Life, first; Property, second; Freedom, third. Has that principal ever been suggested–if so, by whom and whence? Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence wrote …”Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” The latter originally being, “the pursuit of property,” or so I have heard; but, I’m not sure he was putting them in order of importance. I think I would put private property before liberty, myself, because otherwise it is wholly untenable. Now I’m not suggesting that we have “positive” rights in that we must provide sustenance for others; but, morally, we cannot get in the way of their personal survival. At which point does our defense of property create a death sentence? Well, that’s another area of gray that the community must decide, I guess.