Monday, June 18, 2007

Bullshit or Not: John Locke Edition

This week's quotation for adjudication comes from the Second Treatise on Civil Government:

Thus this law of reason makes the deer that Indian's who hath killed it; it is allowed to be his goods, who hath bestowed his labour upon it, though before it was the common right of every one. And amongst those who are counted the civilized part of mankind, who have made and multiplied positive laws to determine property, this original law of nature, for the beginning of property, in what was before common, still takes place; and by virtue thereof, what fish any one catches in the ocean, that great and still remaining common of mankind; or what ambergrise any one takes up here, is by the labour that removes it out of that common state nature left it in, made his property, who takes that pains about it. And even amongst us, the hare that any one is hunting, is thought his who pursues her during the chase: for being a beast that is still looked upon as common, and no man's private possession; whoever has employed so much labour about any of that kind, as to find and pursue her, has thereby removed her from the state of nature, wherein she was common, and hath begun a property.
Does adding one's labor to something unowned convey property rights to that thing? If you make something, does that make it yours? For those who want to call "bullshit," consider the case of a work of art -- surely, the work belongs to the artist because of the artist's labor. Is it a special case? Is ownership in any way related to labor? Or indeed to labour? Is there a connexion? Can you think of other words that are much cooler when spelled in the British fashion?

So, bullshit or not? You decide. As usual, feel free to leave a comment ranging from a single word to a detailed explanation.