Course Correction

Upon the advice of a friend of this course, let’s try out a minor change in how we proceed. First, I will publish homework reading material in a post on Wednesday PM India time. You will have the opportunity to submit questions related to that in the comments section of that post.

In our Friday evening (India time) online session, I will do a slide presentation for about 40 minutes. The main focus will be on the matter that was published on Wednesday. Previously I kept my presentation brief; the main change is that the bulk of the hour will be the presentation. Continue reading “Course Correction”

The Fragility of the Earth’s Ecosystem

Abhilash wrote:

I have a doubt regarding fragility of world. It is said that if all the insects disappear the world will be destroyed in 3-4 years time. If all micro organisms disappear, world will get destroyed in 12-18 months. For instance, today due to over usage of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other means, the top soil is getting almost depleted and the micro organisms are also being destroyed. If we are not refraining from this process which destroys micro organisms then that will lead to a huge disaster. In this context, can we say that if micro organisms are not there, will humans be discovering alternate methodologies to save soil and thereby earth?

I don’t know what the source of the information you claim above is. But even if we agree that the information is accurate, I doubt that the situation is as dire as is often interpreted to be. Continue reading “The Fragility of the Earth’s Ecosystem”

Free Markets

In a recent comment, Meet wrote:

I really liked how you found the market to be a key factor for welfare in the setup of the current world. My question is whether free markets did exist at some point of time? And as rather free (different degrees of free) markets exist, should regulation (an apparent contradiction to free markets) be required to protect the participants from manipulation or loopholes in the system?

Markets are where exchanges take place. Free markets are where there are no barriers to entry for buyers and sellers, and there are no exit barriers either. One can easily imagine that free markets do exist somewhere in somethings, and that these have a long history going back to thousands of years. Continue reading “Free Markets”

On Land Ownership

Anirudh asked in a comment:

I understand that the fruits of a person’s labor is his own private property and that he can choose to sell it, barter it, or choose to do with it as he wills. Then how does land ownership work, because a piece of land is not exactly “fruits of his labor”; what is produced on that land can be his property, but why should the land itself be his property?

This is a fairly complex and deep philosophical question. A lot of very fine minds have explored it and opinion is divided among reasonable persons. I will not be able to do it justice here. Furthermore, it’s outside the scope of this course. Fortunately, we have easy access to what has already been said about the topic. Continue reading “On Land Ownership”

Property Rights – Revisited

In a comment to a previous post on property rights, Anirudh wrote:

If a person is his own private property, then what is stopping him from selling himself into slavery or into some sort of debt bondage? Isn’t it a slippery slope to base your opposition to slavery in terms of property rights?

First of all, self-ownership is axiomatically true. Meaning, you either accept it as self-evidently true and need no further proof; or you reject the self-ownership axiom and admit that it is both possible and permissible to own persons. In the latter case, as I have claimed before, we are talking about a society that admits slavery and therefore not the society that we aim to have or aim to explain the workings of. It is not morally permissible to own people. Continue reading “Property Rights – Revisited”