Robert Nozick’s ‘The Tale of the Slave’

In his book Anarchy, State and Utopia, Robert Nozick has a chapter titled “The Tale of the Slave”. In this chapter, Nozick proposes a thought exercise. He gives the reader a set of nine cases, and tells them to imagine they are the slave. The cases get better and better for the slave throughout the entire set. The last case is parallel to what we have now in America. He, however, leaves us with one chilling question: “Which transition from case 1) to case 9) made it no longer the tale of a slave?” Nozick’s point is that it is still the tale of the slave.

At the end of the set, the slave is still a slave. We are still slaves. Slaves to a gang of thugs who coerce and oppress us.

Lysander Spooner’s Argument Against ‘Tacit Consent’

Lysander Spooner was a nineteenth-century philosopher who wrote against John Locke’s theory of ‘tacit consent’. According to Locke, ‘tacit consent’ occurred when a person implies consent to be governed by accepting benefits given by the governing power. Spooner, on the other hand, thinks this idea is completely ludicrous.

Spooner argues that consent has to be given expressly, and it cannot be implied. A contract is not binding to you if you have not signed it. Why would consent be any different in this instance?

It’s just like everything else about the government. Any one individual person cannot aggress against another and be morally justified, however, when a group of people get together and call themselves ‘government’, both the people and the ones calling themselves ‘government’ think they can do whatever they want.

Murray Rothbard’s Defense of Complete Self-Ownership

Murray Rothbard believed in complete self-ownership. He believed it was the only completely defensible philosophical position.

With the issue of self-ownership, there are three possible options besides complete self-ownership. You can have no one owning anyone, including himself. You can have everyone owning a portion of himself and a portion of everyone else. You can have partial ownership of one group by another.

The first two choices don’t make any sense, and the third choice is unfair and immoral. The only choice left is complete self-ownership.

However, in America today, we have the third option. The government practically owns the citizens, and, as I stated above, this is completely immoral.

The Age of Discovery and the Philosophizing of Natural Rights

The Age of Discovery provided an opportunity for Spanish thinkers to reflect on the idea of natural rights.

In the Age of Discovery, the Spanish explorers of the New World were less than courteous to the natives. This was due mainly to the fact that the Spaniards believed they had some sort of superiority, either because they were religious, Spanish, or any other number of reasons. Because of their supposed superiority, the invading Spaniards were forcefully ejecting the natives away from their property and possessions.

However, theologians and philosophers at the University of Salamanca were not quite so sure of their superiority. They recognized that a single standard of justice must apply to every human being. The natives were human, and they had the same natural rights as every other human because of this. Being religious and/or Spanish or not had no bearing on whether you were rightfully allowed to keep your justly acquired property.

The searching done by the thinkers at the University of Salamanca was when the idea of natural rights really began to emerge and take hold.

Mark Twain’s Autobiography

Mark Twain’s autobiography is very disconnected. The chapters have almost no correlation to each other and have no order, and the book isn’t unified.  There are certain reasons this disjointedness occurred.

First, Mark Twain’s autobiography was written in an interesting way. He dictated every chapter separately, and the subject, while most of the time was generally going in the direction of his personal history, was said to be whatever interested Twain at the moment, resulting in tangents.

Second, Twain requested that his narrative not be edited. It was to remain as is. However, editing is an important tool for writing, and the biography would have been more complete had it been used.

Third, Twain’s mental health was steadily decreasing throughout the time he narrated his biography. He had always been eccentric, but the deaths of various close family members that occurred during the writing of the biography degraded his mental state. He was nigh mad with sorrow by the last chapter, when the last close family member he had, his daughter, died. The last chapter, and by extension, the book, ended abruptly after the mention of her death.

Out of all three of those reasons, however, the fact that Twain requested that the autobiography not be edited was probably the most prevalent of the reasons. If it had been edited, that would have fixed the majority of the issues people seem to have with it. However, I think that leaving it as is was the right decision. It adds character, even if it was a bit disjointed at times.

Benefits of Writing an Autobiography

There are many benefits of writing an autobiography.

The first reason, and probably the first reason people think of, is to sell copies of the autobiography for profit. This would only work on a decent scale if you became particularly famous, but it’s a reason nonetheless.

The second reason is you will have an, more or less depending on how well you remember or record, accurate record of your life. This is useful for private reference, as well as, in the future, passing it down to your descendants for references to family history.

The third reason is the possibility for future use as a historical reference. It would contain a first-person account of the events you lived through, and could possibly be used for history textbooks or other such materials.

These are just a few of the benefits of writing an autobiography.