Booby-Trapping Part II

From: Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2019 6:28 AM
Subject: Implicit Contracts

Dr. B.-

This anarcho-capitalist is beyond the pale with this quote of yours; “I think there is an implicit contract we have with each other to warn each other of booby traps that can kill.”

Where does such a thought derive from? Natural Law? Show me where. How can a person be born with some ‘implicit contract’ hung around his or her neck? Especially one that is, apparently, with other persons that have chosen to harm us or our property, i.e., someone with criminal intent.

And what is next Dr. Block, an implicit contract that every person adhere to some theologic principle? Just where the heck would implicit contracts end, once the first one is allowed? Under your implicit contracts, what would I be guilty of when I put buckshot in the face of a 2AM intruder in my home? Have I not set a booby trap of sorts by hearing him, and waiting for the door to open with 12-guage at the ready?

A short story follows; A friend returned to Demark after spending several years in the US. Her family had a new auto. The second time my friend drove it, she was rear-ended while waiting in a left turn lane. She broke no law, the other driver was 100% at fault. But the Danish government determined that her family had more wealth than the family that rear ended her. As a result her family had to pay to have their new car repaired, AND to pay half the other driver’s repair costs.

When society acknowledges implicit contracts, it is only a matter of time before judgments like the Danish one are made. Like taxes, once granted, they always increase. Your quote is a slippery slope to zero good end. Implicit contracts have no place in a Libertarian culture. M

Dear M:

Thanks for your thoughtful critique of my views on booby trapping.

So, you should pay $1million for that cup of coffee you just drank?

I heartily agree with you that we can take implicit contracts too far. For example, the lefties, if they ever thought of this, would maintain that we have an implicit contract for the rich to give money to the poor (should it only apply within a country, as Rawls would have it? Or, what about the reductio ad absurdum that we apply this unjust “implicit contract” world wide?)

On the other hand, you are staking out the position that there’s no such thing as an implicit contract.  I think that stance is vulnerable to the coffee cup case.

I take an intermediary position on this. (That’s why I am known far and wide, at least in my imagination, as Walter Moderate Block). I think that there are some valid implicit contracts, but that this cannot be stretched to widely. But I think it can cover killing relatively innocent people who break into cabins in the woods in order to save their lives. I see a continuum here: implicit contracts can be stretched, but there’s a limit. Death for innocent people I think falls well within the line.

On the continuum issue, see this:

Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166, June;

Boy, those Danes are weird.


3:27 pm on October 10, 2019