Humans Will Invent Institutions To Fill Ethical and Moral Vacuums


[T]he trick is to fill moral and ethical vacuums with rationally adjudicable property rights rather than the state, religious authority, superstition, or some other rule or taboo.

The rothbardian definition of property will not produce rational incentives sufficient for the formation of a voluntary polity. Definitions of property, like rules of common law, must evolve with the complexity of the society to reflect all possible ethical and moral constraints such that ALTERNATIVE ethical and moral constraints – of which the state is only one form – do not evolve to take the place of missing moral and ethical constraints. Humans will find a way to fill a moral or ethical vacuum because transaction costs of the moral and ethical vacuum are simply prohibitively high. That is why societies have eccentric moral codes, laws, rules and rituals: they have no method – like the common law – of advancing property rights by rational means. Property is our only rational means of advancing prohibition on unethical and immoral behavior and thereby driving out the high transaction costs they create.

[F]or libertarianism to be palatable and rationally preferable for other than a marginally indifferent minority, we must repair the definition of property that is adjudicable under the common law, to reflect the entire scope of moral and ethical constraints. Moral intuitions do vary in amplitude and priority but those that apply to cooperation are instinctual prohibitions on in-group free riding: violence, theft, fraud, fraud by omission, fraud by negative externality, free riding, socialization of losses, privatization of gains, corruption and conspiracy – and every permutation and possibility in between.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute

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