Lots of regulars this time, so I expect we'll get comfortable quickly. Looking over the focal point ideas submitted, it's obvious that we will be considering the kinds of things that might be owned. Yet let's not make that our only entry point into discussing the concept of Property: after all, you should have an idea of what Property is in order to select examples, don't you? In other words, what does it mean that something is "owned"? Still another way to put it is: let's start with the subtlest points we can imagine, and trust that we will be drawn towards the classic questions, but with an expanded perspective.
"When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself a public property." – Thomas Jefferson
"Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one's rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which mean: the right of property." – Ayn Rand
"Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it." - G. K. Chesterton
"Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them." –Henry David Thoreau
The concept of property I would like us to start with is that of a right to exclude others from use of the thing owned. This is the basis of intellectual property, pure and simple, and of real property (with the exception that the owner cannot exclude the government that grants the right). It's also the principle cited by an upset child when he ends a game by taking his ball and going home.
Dream home shoppers, net neutrality proponents, and libertarians rejoice! However, your agenda will be best served by leading us from the (arguably) innate mine-not-yours stance via reasoned persuasion to, say, why enforcing property rights results in better maintenance of the environment. At least, proceeding thus ought to distinguish our theme as a philosophical one rather than sociological.
Our adjusted format is producing simultaneously more variety and focus, plus an enjoyable pacing. Each short topic is represented by some focal point brought to the meeting by a participant. Examples include:
- a quote, originated by you or someone famous
- a question (but not a "stumper")
- a Top Ten List title
- an under-a-minute story from a book, a film, or personal life
- an invented obstacle or constraint, such as plays a part in most games
Please give some thought to how your focal point will serve to generate an inclusive discussion, one that stays tethered but doesn't land too quickly. Feel free to run it by me via email. There won't be time for every one to supply a focal point, but it's stimulating practice to think of one.
See you Tuesday, February 26!