A very long disagreement with Alexander Baker

As I’ve mentioned previously, there’s a split in the libertarian movement right now, over the subject of “intellectual property”. Some are against it, some are for it. One of the voices in favor of intellectual property rights (specifically in the area of copyright) is a fellow named Alexander Baker. He writes a blog called Intellectual Space, subtitled: “The Libertarian Theory of Intangible Property”. Here’s his brief explanation of his own blog:

Intellectual Space is a praxeological examination of property rights for intangible objects. I initially began thinking that a rigorous philosophical approach would support the anti-IP position prevalent in libertarian circles. The opposite has occurred.

This is an interesting challenge for me. Alexander Baker appears to share many of the premises I have, yet he arrives at a very different conclusion from mine, and he insists that it is the result of a rigorous philosophical approach. This indicates to me that something, somewhere, has gone wrong. Perhaps we do not share certain as many premises as I thought. Perhaps our logic has gone wrong somewhere. Perhaps we’re just miscommunicating, and we do not truly differ in opinion. Whatever the case, there is a problem somewhere, and this long post is my attempt to tease out that problem and fix it.
Continue reading

Escape the Iron Prison

There is a pattern to our thoughts that we do not see, a set of rules that we follow without knowing. It governs what we can or cannot understand, which means that it affects everything we do. The pattern is useful to us in the measure that it approximates reality; a pattern of thought is like a map, and a map is good if it helps us navigate the territory. But if the pattern does not approximate reality, then it does not serve us. It might, however, serve other people; if someone can edit your map without you knowing, then they can hide things from you and lead you astray at their will and pleasure. As a consequence, some people are actively trying to confuse us for their own benefit. This is one of the reasons why it’s hard to understand so many things, and why it’s important to see things as they really are.

You’ve probably already noticed that my favorite topic on this blog is “intellectual property” and its subdivisions, such as patent, copyright, database rights, and so on. I choose to focus on this topic because I believe that it is very important, since the legal rules of IP govern the development and use of technology (which we all use, and we’re using more and more of it) and communication (which we all do, and we’re doing more and more of it). I also focus on IP because I believe that the ways of thinking that define and uphold IP are very, very wrong.

Continue reading