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thermf5 wrote:Self-ownership (or sovereignty of the individual, individual sovereignty or individual autonomy) is the concept of property in one's own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of his own body and life. y is that ofencive to most westerners when we are sapost to live in a free and open sosidty
Walter Block wrote:
While people may start out as free self-owners of themselves, they have a right to sell themselves into slavery. That is, if they truly own themselves, they can sell themselves. If they cannot sell themselves into slavery, they are then to that extent less than fully free. If I own my shirt, I can sell it to you. If I cannot sell it to you, then and to that extent my ownership rights are attenuated. In effect, people are “just” commodities, as our friends on the other side of the aisle are wont to charge.
Why would anyone consent to sell himself into slavery?
Suppose my child were ill with a dread disease. The cure costs $1 million. Unfortunately, I do not have anything like that amount to my name. Fortunately, you have long desired to have me as a slave, to boss around and order about, to chastise and even kill me if I in any way displease you, or even on a whim. You value the prospect of my enslavement to you as worth far more than the $1 million it will cost you. I, for my part, value my child’s life more than my own freedom, or even my own life, should it come to that. Thus, as in the case of all voluntary contracts, we both benefit, at least in the ex ante sense, from this commercial interaction.
A voluntary slave contract has nothing to do with the sale of the “will.”2 Just as in the case of being unable to not think about a pink elephant when one is mentioned, it would be all but impossible for me to quell my desires for freedom, once enslaved. Slaves can still want to be free. Very much to the contrary, voluntary slavery pertains only to the law of physical invasion: if a policeman sees you whipping me, he might with alacrity rush to my defense. The operational definition of a slave contract is that upon being told that I have sold myself into slavery to you, the policemen will cease in his efforts to stop you from beating me. If anything, he will hold me down, as he would a horse you were attempting to harness, so as to aid in your right to treat your property (e.g., me) in any way you see fit.
- Walter Block, Journal of Libertarian Studies Volume 17, no. 2 (Spring 2003), pp. 39–85, 2003, Ludwig von Mises Institute.
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