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jedipotter
2015-01-29, 05:30 PM
How do you determine if something is stolen or not? And this only seems easy as that is the way the real world operates. But how does one prove ownership? You can only steal something if it belongs to someone else. And ownership needs some sort of mutually agreed on laws and social structure.

So what if the does not exist? Who gets to decide who owns what?

I'd say that Cosmic Good, whatever force is out there that judges if an action is good or not, does not even understand the concept of ''property'' or ''ownership'' or ''theft''. That is all man made.

Though Cosmic Chaos, will almost always see ''stealing''/''theft'' as a Chaotic act.

Take a typical Fantasy world, a bit like Earth at 1400. So there are a couple kingdoms, couple countries, and lots of free and open and ''unclaimed'' lands. How do you define everything, worldwide? Imagine that things like ''property'' as defined by humans on Earth, does not exist. The idea that ''I own this'' is a bit odd, and it gets even more odd when you start applying it to everything. And property only works if you have money, laws and a whole social system of government and lifestyle.

Who owns what? And why?

hamishspence
2015-01-29, 05:35 PM
How do you determine if something is stolen or not? And this only seems easy as that is the way the real world operates. But how does one prove ownership? You can only steal something if it belongs to someone else. And ownership needs some sort of mutually agreed on laws and social structure.

So what if the does not exist? Who gets to decide who owns what?

I'd say that Cosmic Good, whatever force is out there that judges if an action is good or not, does not even understand the concept of ''property'' or ''ownership'' or ''theft''. That is all man made.


We've got BoVD "Any child can tell you that stealing is wrong".

And the way I see it - an angel, having been mugged by an adventurer and having its weapons and armor taken from it, would be a representative of Cosmic Good that understands the concept of property - being very upset about having its stuff taken from it, and seeking to get them back.

Beta Centauri
2015-01-29, 06:41 PM
They who can destroy a thing, control that thing.

Control is not ownership, but it's somewhat related. You can have "possession" of a thing, but if that possession can be ended at any time by someone else destroying it then there's not much point in saying you "own" it.

Food for thought.

hamishspence
2015-01-29, 06:44 PM
You could say the same about fragile things in any era. At any point, a vandal can smash something another person is holding - that doesn't prevent it from being a crime.

Seto
2015-01-29, 07:07 PM
I'm a bit confused as to what we are discussing here : roleplaying games, semantics or philosophy, or even history. There're several interesting questions to be formulated there (e.g. "What meaning if any does property have in medieval Europe ?", "Is there a difference between property and ownership ?", "can you steal something that has no one owner ?"), there's the Alignment thing (Is stealing evil, or is it chaotic ?), there's the rp thing ("What repercussions would it have on my world if I decided that property doesn't mean much to its inhabitants ?"). You could even try mixing them up and ask something like "Historically, what does stealing mean in medieval Europe and what do I have to do in terms of rp and alignment to transpose it to my game ?".

But I'm honestly not sure which question(s) you are asking, so I'd rather ask for clarifications than give you irrelevant opinions.

Terraoblivion
2015-01-29, 07:26 PM
Uh, where do you find all those unclaimed lands in 1400? The Earth was pretty densely populated and most discreet groups had a pretty clear idea of what lands were their and what weren't by then.

Beta Centauri
2015-01-29, 07:50 PM
You could say the same about fragile things in any era. At any point, a vandal can smash something another person is holding - that doesn't prevent it from being a crime. Crime is a construct, a convenience to enable civilization. Frankly, even today in the first world laws on theft are of only questionable justness, and are not always enforced without bias. Someone who feels that the "victim" was careless with their possession, or is otherwise biased, might let the "criminal" off relatively easy with no restitution. What then was the point of the "owner's" sense of ownership?

hamishspence
2015-01-29, 07:52 PM
Crime is a construct, a convenience to enable civilization.

Discworld's Sam Vimes: "Before there can be a law, there must be a crime." (Snuff)

Berenger
2015-01-29, 09:08 PM
Without a concept of ownership, your world cannot have cultures similar to those of earth around the year 1400, unless you specifically refer to some obscure aborigine tribe at the back of beyond. Anything even remotely resembling an average culture of that era requires at a bare minimum specialized tools and specialized work - and both require trade. Trade requires a sense of ownership, or else there would be no obligation to recompensate a person for the work that person invested to make a certain resource available. This behaviour would give no incentive for that person to provide a surplus of said resource in the future.

While "money, laws and a whole social system of government and lifestyle" may be preferrable to convey a sense of property, instinctive reactions like "I'm hungry and too tired to catch another rabbit, so I will smash your friggin' face with this conveniently shaped rock if you dare touch my dead rabbit." will work in a pinch.

JNAProductions
2015-01-29, 10:32 PM
Ownership, in small places, is something everyone knows. Old William Bartlesby owns four horses-one brown, one with a few spots, one old stallion that still runs like a champ, and one with a lame leg he just refuses to put down.

When Old Will loses the stallion and a stranger shows up on an old, male horse that can gallop very well, everyone knows it's stolen.

In larger places, there's probably going to be more records. When Old Will moves to the city, he has to get a paper for his (now three-hey, that stranger was an adventurer! Those guys are dangerous.) horses, so they can be taxed. When one vanishes in the dead of night and his neighbor gains a new horse, he goes to the city hall and demands they find the tax records proving he owns that horse.

icefractal
2015-01-29, 11:07 PM
Defining ownership in the context of a particular society is do-able, although the laws might be complex. Defining it in terms of cosmic law/chaos ... that's very difficult. Sure, the BoVD would like to pretend it's easy, but frankly the BoVD/BoED are pretty half-assed on such matters, and are probably only considering the trivial case.

For something less trivial (but still very simple compared to a lot of RL situations), consider something like:
Abe gives Bob a horse in exchange for a cottage.
Before Abe can move in to the cottage, it's hit by lightning and burns down.
In Bob's culture, they agreed and the horse was exchanged, that's the end of it. Bad luck for Abe, but the horse isn't getting returned.
In Abe's culture, since he hasn't yet taken possession of the house, it's still Bob's problem. Since Bob no longer has a cottage to give him, the horse needs to be returned.
Cedric isn't part of the deal, but he is the mayor of a nearby thorp - which doesn't include the cottage, but is the closest civilization to it. His opinion is that the two are equally responsible here - whoever ends up with the horse should pay the other half its value.

Ok, now what does the cosmic force of Law think about this?

WarKitty
2015-01-29, 11:11 PM
There tend to be certain agreed upon notions of property, even if there are no laws indicating that. Most people would have some intrinsic concept of at least the ownership of things. Even if it were something so simple as "this is my necklace because I made it and wear it." Typically you also have some sort of barter system as well.

Most commonly disputes are going to be at the edges of cultures (note that cultures don't always occupy different lands, although that's the typical state). So for example, in one culture, animals are earmarked to show who they belong to and then turned out. Another culture might consider any "stray" animal to belong to the finder. This sort of thing could very easily lead to both sides regarding the other as thieves.

Of course there's also issues of differing views on rightness. As I've actually gone over in a campaign, are slaves stealing from their former masters truly stealing? Or are they merely taking the rightful fruits of their labor? Even a lawful good deity might very well approve of taking goods earned through immoral means, even if the local law doesn't agree.

Vitruviansquid
2015-01-29, 11:39 PM
The way I see it, Cosmic Good doesn't recognize property laws, but it can recognize that two people who have a trade dispute are willing to meet, settle it peacefully, and in the spirit of charity. Cosmic evil, on the other hand, recognizes the selfishness and greed in a dishonest dealer's heart, whether what he's doing is strictly legal or not. Cosmic law does not have an objective law that it measures all acts by, but it approves when two traders defer to law and try to seek a legal settlement to their dispute. Cosmic chaos approves when Abe takes out a knife and stabs Bob over their trade dispute.

Flickerdart
2015-01-29, 11:49 PM
Property is not a human concept - various animals demonstrate an understanding of territory, and frequently mark it with various pungent odorants to claim it. Neither is theft - carnivores frequently fight over carcasses, with the stronger animal driving off the weaker and claiming the food.

The OP's claim that you can only have property if money exists is proven false by reading any history book.

jedipotter
2015-01-30, 01:49 AM
We've got BoVD "Any child can tell you that stealing is wrong".

And what would an adult say?



And the way I see it - an angel, having been mugged by an adventurer and having its weapons and armor taken from it, would be a representative of Cosmic Good that understands the concept of property - being very upset about having its stuff taken from it, and seeking to get them back.

Ok, so the angel would be upset. How does he understand ''property'' without a framework. Where did he get ''his'' stuff, and why is it even ''his'' in the first place?




But I'm honestly not sure which question(s) you are asking, so I'd rather ask for clarifications than give you irrelevant opinions.

Role-playing games. Only the small part of the game universe that is based on ''Europe'/(and some of)Asia'' will just ''know'' what things like property or ownership even is. The rest of the universe does not see it that way...


Uh, where do you find all those unclaimed lands in 1400? The Earth was pretty densely populated and most discreet groups had a pretty clear idea of what lands were their and what weren't by then.

Well, North and South America, are the best examples. The natives of the America's did not share the European out look on anything. And more importunately there was very little ''international law'', if really any.


Most people would have some intrinsic concept of at least the ownership of things. Even if it were something so simple as "this is my necklace because I made it and wear it."

''Intrinsic'' goes way, way too far. Tons of cultures never just ''spontaneously think the same way Europe did''.


The way I see it, Cosmic Good doesn't recognize property laws,

I think so too.


Property is not a human concept - various animals demonstrate an understanding of territory, and frequently mark it with various pungent odorants to claim it. Neither is theft - carnivores frequently fight over carcasses, with the stronger animal driving off the weaker and claiming the food.


It might be a bit too much of humanizing an animal to say it owns property. Does an animal select a home for itself, mark the area and defend it? Yes, but not not exactly humans do it. Animals follow the basic rule of the wild: they can have whatever they can defend and keep. Animal A makes a lair, and when Animal B comes along and takes it...all animal A can do is fight or run. But then by what right can an animal ''claim a spot'' anyway?

Animals do Might Makes Right or the Sneaky Way. But those are not really about ''ownership'' and ''property''.

Psyren
2015-01-30, 02:14 AM
In D&D settings, human society is invariably based on that of some intelligent precursor, be it dragons or aboleths or angels etc. So the question confuses me - if we could figure out the concept of "ownership," why couldn't they?

Furthermore, the actions of every sapient being are generally being monitored in minute detail (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0488.html) for their eventual judgment; Kelemvor, Pharasma, Wee Jas etc. will eventually take a look at every item you've acquired in your entire life and know the circumstances and context of that acquisition. So if there's some extenuating circumstance or dispute of ownership, you or a representative of you will have a chance to explain yourself at that point.

So whether or not we in this thread are able to answer your questions, the Powers That Be can do so, unless you're in a homebrewed setting of some kind.

hamishspence
2015-01-30, 02:17 AM
Ok, so the angel would be upset. How does he understand ''property'' without a framework. Where did he get ''his'' stuff, and why is it even ''his'' in the first place?


He already has a framework- all the upper planes have cities, villages, etc. He probably made his stuff, or bought it, by earning it (working for senior angels.)

TheThan
2015-01-30, 04:10 AM
Property is not a human concept - various animals demonstrate an understanding of territory, and frequently mark it with various pungent odorants to claim it. Neither is theft - carnivores frequently fight over carcasses, with the stronger animal driving off the weaker and claiming the food.

The OP's claim that you can only have property if money exists is proven false by reading any history book.
This.

Might certainly can make right. If I was say, a caveman, and the other caveman across the fire swipes my chunk of dinosaur meat out of my hands. Iíve got every right to crush his skull with my bone club and take it back. Thatís an extreme case sure, but itís certainly a plausible scenario. Granted Might can also certainly make wrong. In that same scenario, the other caveman can klock me on the head and take my food first and then Iím screwed (or dead whichever the case may be).

If weíre talking about an anarchic universe with no social norms and rule of law, even at the most base and micro-level (say a very small community); then might is the only means of holding onto what you deem to be yours. In this scenario might is the only effective tool you have in acquiring more stuff, and protecting what stuff you do have.

I think i've already went over this subject in the other thread. oh well...

Now if you want to talk about the concept of ownership. Well thatís a bit harder to consider as we all understand it. it think itís an intrinsic part of humanity.

Coidzor
2015-01-30, 04:32 AM
And property only works if you have money, laws and a whole social system of government and lifestyle.

Does it? You're presupposing that society predates property. I question that assumption and many philosophers have as well.

We also have more modern examples of peoples who live in small family bands with no government but nonetheless have some conception of property and belonging, at least in terms of personal possessions and familial ties and progeny. IIRC, most famously in Papua New Guinea and some other areas of Oceania, but also in tribes in the Amazon rain forest.

WarKitty
2015-01-30, 05:08 AM
''Intrinsic'' goes way, way too far. Tons of cultures never just ''spontaneously think the same way Europe did''.

There's a difference between the idea of property itself, and certain ways of handling property. For example, gift economies developed generally among southeast asian and indonesian peoples. They are based on a strong conception of property still; however the way property was transferred between people and how it related to social structure was different. The commonality of customs like bride price in Africa also require that there be a concept of property.

Now, conceptions of ownership do tend to be limited by practicality. So for example, nomadic societies tend not to consider that you own more than you can take with you (which can vary from just what you can have on your back to rather large amounts of stuff carried by draft animals, as well as sometimes quite significant amounts of livestock). The development of agriculture and other such stationary survival methods tend to result in much greater senses of property, as houses to store things in become more common and the division of land becomes practical. This in turn starts to allow division of labor, which tends to commodify things more - if not everyone is working at the same thing then it's much more imperative to make sure everyone's getting value for their work. And of course as societies get bigger they tend to develop currency, to simplify transactions between multiple people.

hamishspence
2015-01-30, 05:48 AM
Might certainly can make right. If I was say, a caveman, and the other caveman across the fire swipes my chunk of dinosaur meat out of my hands. Iíve got every right to crush his skull with my bone club and take it back. Thatís an extreme case sure, but itís certainly a plausible scenario. Granted Might can also certainly make wrong. In that same scenario, the other caveman can klock me on the head and take my food first and then Iím screwed (or dead whichever the case may be).

I like the notion that, even back then, people started figuring out that it was easier (and more conducive to cooperation in the tribe) to have an arbiter to appeal to, rather than to sort out every dispute with violence.

There's also the problem of "sometimes property is destroyed" - if the other caveman swipes it - runs away faster than I can, eats it, and returns to the fire, and I kill him in front of the rest of the cavemen - do they treat it as an overreaction, perhaps even murder, and attack me, driving me into flight?

Even animals cooperate. I'm not sure if zoologists have discovered "peaceful arbitration of disputes by a neutral arbiter" in chimps, bonobos, baboons etc. Maybe there's research out there on this subject?

Flickerdart
2015-01-30, 10:23 AM
Animals do Might Makes Right or the Sneaky Way. But those are not really about ''ownership'' and ''property''.
That's exactly what they are about.

In terms of arbitration, all you're really doing is submitting to someone with more power than you. The clan chief that decides whether Bob is entitled to Adam's club just because he beat him up and took it is more powerful than both of them, even if he is physically weaker, because he has the power to order the clan to cast out or kill one or both of them. Law and government are fundamentally about monopoly on violence.

Terraoblivion
2015-01-30, 11:10 AM
Well, North and South America, are the best examples. The natives of the America's did not share the European out look on anything. And more importunately there was very little ''international law'', if really any.

The population of the Americas was also larger than that of Europe and population density only slightly lower. The very low populations associated with the continents before European colonization is because Europeans diseases brought over by early explorers caused a population collapse so once serious exploration got underway the region was basically a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I can also explain Incan property law to you in case you're interested. The idea that Native Americans don't understand property is a product of European justifications for taking their land that later got taken over by Marxists as an example of how Communism is the natural state of humans.

Segev
2015-01-30, 11:56 AM
The expression, "Possession is 9/10 of the law," comes to mind.

Leaving out any concept of morals or ethics, what is "yours" is what you can prevent others from taking from you without your consent, at a bare minimum.

But the concept, as humans understand it, clearly goes deeper. Just because Tog the Strong can take Mel the Weak's fried rabbit leg by shoving Mel out of the way and eating it doesn't mean that people would not acknowledge, "That was Mel's, and Tog took it from him."

So there's at least some concept of chain-of-ownership, and right-of-prior-possession.

That last is actually where a lot of "native vs. newcomer" disputes over territory arise: "My people were here 100 years ago, and then yours came in and took it. That means it's really mine!" is a concept that tends to exist because of the notion that the people who had something before, if they did not willingly give it up, still have a right to it.

That may or may not hold logical weight; after all, your ancestors have held this land for the last three generations, so you definitely feel like it's yours, right? It's not like I ever lived on it at all; I am, to you, an invader trying to take something which was never mine.

This also reveals that property has, to some degree, a concept of right to dispose of it attached. It is also presumed that family ties will be the preferred means of disposition, should all else be equal (and disposition must be made, usually due to death). i.e., inheritence.

But what is the origination of property? Not the concept, but just the idea that ANYBODY can own something? If we base it on chain of ownership, with one owner handing it over to another, somebody still must have laid claim to it initially.

This is where our notions of property get stickiest. There is a tendency to apply a "first taker" principle to unclaimed things. This is one way to deal with it, but it leads to issues of claims of prior possession. If I come across a plot of land and think it would be a great place for a house and farm, and then, when my crops are coming in, somebody else comes along and says they'd owned this land for a decade, because they walked by and peed on a tree (or otherwise made some "ownership ritual") when they were a teenager, do I owe them rent?

Clearly, if they had done that, then shown me the land and offered to rent it to me, that would be the case; we'd be in agreement that he owned it. If nothing else, I wouldn't have found it without his help, in theory.

There are others who claim that whoever made the first use of it owns it. This is also dangerous, as it can lead to people being denied something by virtue of their EFFORT to use it (even having found it first) being denied by force by others who want to use it, themselves, and make sure they have "claim."

This tends to come back to the first point: possession. If I come across that ideal farmland and settle in, I have taken obvious possession of it. Meanwhile, the other guy clearly only wandered by every few months, at most, if he didn't even know I was settling in. Without some larger context to give proof that he had taken possession of it, it could be argued that I own it and he doesn't because I did take possession in the most declarative manner.

The other way a thing becomes "owned," generally, is by its creation. It is almost universally recognized that something a person creates is his, barring prior agreements (e.g. "I am paying you to turn my lumber into a house," the owner is the guy who paid for the construction). It gets stickier, again, when using somebody else's property to make your new thing; generally, if you don't get their permission, you at LEAST are considered to have stolen what you used to make it. This may or may not render your new thing their property.

Ultimately, we tend to recognize custody - possession - as ownership if we have no other criteria on which to base it. This is why "first taker" rights are so commonly accepted: I saw it, I took it, nobody objected, so it's mine.

Note that this doesn't mean "if I take it without getting caught, it isn't stealing." We tend to recognize right of prior possession, after all. It just requires there be evidence (or knowledge) that it belonged to somebody. It's theirs if they want it back.

But at the same time, we tend to discount prior ownership if the thing is considered abandoned. (Lost is another matter; some people think "finders keepers," while others feel you should return it if you discover who lost it, and should make reasonable effort to find out.) This is because abandonment, even just through negligence, implies a lack of caring and use. If the thing is only valuable now that the new person has taken possession, we tend to recognize that their work has made it theirs, and that you're trying to steal THAT, not reclaim property that you had never intended to abandon.

Once more, this is what makes things like land disputes so tricky.


Ultimately, there seems to be a variable time limit on how long you can possess something before it becomes "yours," no matter how you acquired it. Once it's passed through at least one generation of inheritence, it's foggy enough that we have limited inherent understanding of to whom it belongs. Fortunately, good-hearted people tend to come to agreements over these kinds of things.

If there is a perceived harm to the party who has lost possession of the thing, at the least we tend to feel responsibility to mitigate that harm.

Because we do, inherently, understand a concept of ownership. Even if it is sometimes fuzzy what it means in particular.

hamishspence
2015-01-30, 12:03 PM
Because we do, inherently, understand a concept of ownership. Even if it is sometimes fuzzy what it means in particular.

Could be that it's "cultural conditioning from infancy".

With "Mine" being among a child's earliest words, and one of the first lessons a parent teaches as they grow up, being "No, you may not take that other kid's toy - it's theirs, not yours"

Visivicous
2015-01-30, 12:12 PM
snip/...Who gets to decide who owns what?...\snip

I think your questions can be answered with two words... Kender society.

Segev
2015-01-30, 02:26 PM
Could be that it's "cultural conditioning from infancy".

With "Mine" being among a child's earliest words, and one of the first lessons a parent teaches as they grow up, being "No, you may not take that other kid's toy - it's theirs, not yours"

The other kid gets upset when it's taken away, even if the parent never told him he could keep it should some other kid try to take it.

They have an inherent understanding of the concept, even if it's not terribly well developed (and amounts to "possession is ownership").

hamishspence
2015-01-30, 02:35 PM
They have an inherent understanding of the concept, even if it's not terribly well developed (and amounts to "possession is ownership").

I figure that goes way back into our animal days.

TheThan
2015-01-30, 03:00 PM
I like the notion that, even back then, people started figuring out that it was easier (and more conducive to cooperation in the tribe) to have an arbiter to appeal to, rather than to sort out every dispute with violence.

There's also the problem of "sometimes property is destroyed" - if the other caveman swipes it - runs away faster than I can, eats it, and returns to the fire, and I kill him in front of the rest of the cavemen - do they treat it as an overreaction, perhaps even murder, and attack me, driving me into flight?

Even animals cooperate. I'm not sure if zoologists have discovered "peaceful arbitration of disputes by a neutral arbiter" in chimps, bonobos, baboons etc. Maybe there's research out there on this subject?

Oh I totally agree. That was a semi-silly example I gave. But I think the point still stands. Any time you have two or more people present, rules will be made and most people will follow them because itís just easier and safer to work together than to go at it alone. Itís the smart thing to do. We developed communities for a good reason. Even a nomadic tribe of Stone Age cavemen had rules that were followed.

Segev
2015-01-30, 03:08 PM
I've actually seen the nature of humans as herd/prey animals who are individually and naturally weak (no claws, armor, etc) vs. the nature of dragons (obviously, in fantasy) as apex predators that fear next to nothing other than each other as reason for the differences in how their respective societies develop.

Dragons do NOT get along, and do NOT cooperate. They negotiate, at best, terms of armistice, keeping out of each others' way. They dominate those around them, and rarely interact. It just isn't worth it, when they can TAKE what they want without trading if they deal with things other than each other.

Solaris
2015-01-30, 03:28 PM
Could be that it's "cultural conditioning from infancy".

With "Mine" being among a child's earliest words, and one of the first lessons a parent teaches as they grow up, being "No, you may not take that other kid's toy - it's theirs, not yours"

I've never had a dog who didn't have a pretty solid understanding of the concept of what did and did not belong to them. They may not have had any problem with sneaking the food, but they knew they had to sneak it because it wasn't theirs. I recall reading a study supporting that, but can't turn it up on the ol' interwebs.

Cats seem to grasp it pretty well, too: Everything belongs to them. Everything. Especially if you have it or want it.

The exact expression of it is modulated by culture, but the idea of property and possession seems to go far deeper than just cultural indoctrination. As you say, it goes back to our animal days.

jedipotter
2015-01-30, 04:03 PM
Dragons do NOT get along, and do NOT cooperate. They negotiate, at best, terms of armistice, keeping out of each others' way. They dominate those around them, and rarely interact. It just isn't worth it, when they can TAKE what they want without trading if they deal with things other than each other.

Dragons are a great example. They claim a lair and domain by force. They would say it is theirs because they can force others to agree, or just kill them. Though most examples of dragons are hardly Scrooge Landlords, and they let others use their lands, only violently defending their immediate lair.

The horde of a dragon is similar. They own it by right of force. You'd be hard pressed to find a dragon that thought they were a thief. Yet dragons do take all most all of their hoard from others. Dragons love coins, cut gems, artwork, and so forth. All made by other races. Even the good dragons. And even if the good dragons to the whole tap dance where they ''only take from evil'', they will still hurt all in the round about way. As most evil folks get loot from good folks.

Take a good dragon living on a mountain. One day it goes off flying, and finds a bunch of herd animals. It's hungry, so it stops to eat a couple. Then flies on. Well, the herd was owned by Baron Beef. So did the good dragon just steal? The good dragon would sure not think so, it saw some food and ate it. The dragon thinks anything a person owns, they will violently defend. And the herd was unguarded. And the dragon does not even think of things like cattle as being property. To say ''the Baron owns that cattle'' is like saying to a human ''the Baron owns that air''.

And guess this goes to ''nature is free'' vs. ''It's all mine!''. A dragon would say ''just let the cattle roam and take one when your hungry''. The human grabs every last one and says ''they are all mine!''.

hamishspence
2015-01-30, 04:10 PM
And, traditionally, they throw enormous tantrums when they catch someone stealing from them.

So they do have a concept of ownership - it's just that, being hypocrites (in the case of chromatic dragons) - they choose not to exercise it with respect to anyone but themselves.

That said, according to Races of the Dragon, Kobolds, being dragon worshippers, mine a lot of gold and gems, turn it into treasure, and donate it to the local dragons.

So, in a kobold-heavy area, you might find chromatic dragons with very little "stolen goods".

jedipotter
2015-01-30, 06:12 PM
In D&D settings, human society is invariably based on that of some intelligent precursor, be it dragons or aboleths or angels etc. So the question confuses me - if we could figure out the concept of "ownership," why couldn't they?

No one says they can't.


Law and government are fundamentally about monopoly on violence.

Interesting.



But what gives me the right to possess stuff? Disregarding any social rules and laws, what gives me the right to own stuff is my own might as an individual. If I have something that I claim is mine, then someone takes it, I can go and crush his skull with my club and take it back. At the most base level I can defend myself, loved ones and property from those who would do me wrong.

Is that a good or evil action though? Lawful or Chaotic?




I think ownership is an innate part of humanity. We canít help but describe things around us as belonging to someone. But yes those are the exact reasons why people feel they own things.

Well, sadly we are stuck with it on Earth. The handful of rich have tricked all the poor, and that is not going to change.






Not really. My own might (in the form of violence) can allow me to protect what is mine. If I know who stole my thing, I can go and take it back by force. If someone comes after my thing while Iím there, I can use force (violence) to protect it. Not to mention that if its well known that I am mighty, then itís less likely that people will try to hurt me through theft or other means, and Iím likely to attract a mate, as I can prove I can protect her.
Law doesnít necessarily enter into the equation and things can still get complex.

This is the Dragon Way. Humans, being weaker then dragons need laws.




How is it artificial? Unless itís a gift, if I put my time, effort and money into building something for someone, I want to be compensated for it. That seems pretty natural, thereís only so many hours in a personís life so we value our time. Especially our free time when we donít have to work to earn a living.

The ''value of time'' is part of the way humans think.




More true than you realized, Russia tried to create a system that allowed everyone to have everything they needed fairly, guess what it failed. People donít necessarily like sharing. They tried to change the rules and it didn't work out. the people in power took more than their fair share and promptly started stepping on others. what they ended up with is the exact same system. nothing really changed except the people in power.

No system really works. Right now you have someone having some bread and water for dinner, while someone else is buying their 22nd car.




Iím not a historian, but Iím pretty sure but Iím pretty sure that money, property and so on go back pretty darn far.



For ''the West'' it does, 4,000 years or so. But that is still not the way everyone thought of things.

Solaris
2015-01-30, 06:24 PM
For ''the West'' it does, 4,000 years or so. But that is still not the way everyone thought of things.

Such as? I'm hard-pressed to come up with a society that actually managed to develop any culture that didn't have some measure of a concept of property, ownership, or currency.

jedipotter
2015-01-31, 02:03 AM
Such as? I'm hard-pressed to come up with a society that actually managed to develop any culture that didn't have some measure of a concept of property, ownership, or currency.


Well, the easy one is: Most Native Americans. Of both Americas too.

WarKitty
2015-01-31, 02:12 AM
Well, the easy one is: Most Native Americans. Of both Americas too.

Source? They in some cases had different ideas about what could and could not be owned, notably about land ownership. But that doesn't mean they didn't have such ideas. So for example, the potlatch is a native custom that obviously requires a concept of ownership. The Mayans and Incans both had dowry customs, and the Aztecs had laws regarding the disposition of property upon divorce. The Iroquois also had laws regarding the distribution and inheritance of property.

TheThan
2015-01-31, 03:10 AM
Is that a good or evil action though? Lawful or Chaotic?


Probably a mix of all four. If there are rules in place indicating that I donít need to use my might, then thatís chaotic. If there are no such rules, then itís probably lawful, trying to stop someone from taking what is rightfully (by force) mine. Itís also good, stopping someone from hurting others are a fairly good act, but if I go so far as to kill him over something that might be pretty trivial, then that might be considered evil. I think a lot of it would depend on the circumstances.



Well, sadly we are stuck with it on Earth. The handful of rich have tricked all the poor, and that is not going to change.


How exactly?
You make it sound like the rich are leering down upon poor folk just waiting for an opportunity to step on them or somehow trick them out of their money. The truth is that the rich are rich because theyíve either earned it (work), was given it by someone else (inheritance) or got lucky (wining at a game of chance, lotto etc).

Guess what, life isnít fair, the world canít work that way. Someone will always have something you donít. That doesnít mean you canít enjoy life just because you donít have that fancy boat your neighbor just bought.
Believe it or not, most wealthy people barely notice the poor. Theyíre in completely different social strata and deal with others in that same strata as well. The reason why the poor guy gets ignored is because heís not in the same group as the rich; not because the rich person hates him.



This is the Dragon Way. Humans, being weaker then dragons need laws.


Typically yes. But if those laws ever break down, then people will have to resort to that method of defense. When the cops arenít around, nobody is going to come to your aid. You either fight for yourself or you die. No two ways about it.

Over time society will start to reemerge and laws will be enacted; but itís going to be smaller scale society, an apartment building, a housing community, a city block. Eventually that will expand into towns and cities and whatnot and weíll see growth like previous eras in history.



The ''value of time'' is part of the way humans think.

Exactly, itís natural for us to assign value to time; phrases like ďyouíre wasting my timeĒ have existed since forever for a reason.
Some creature like an elf, that lives significantly longer than a human, might have a different perception of time. I donít know how that would play out though.


No system really works. Right now you have someone having some bread and water for dinner, while someone else is buying their 22nd car.

True no system is perfect. But the point is that the Russians tried to make a system that was ďfairĒ but all it did was get a lot of people stepped on and threatened nuclear war with the US for like 50 years or so.

Good gosh can you imagine how horrible a truly fair system would be? Itís awful really. Iím for one glad that itís not. But as far as the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer, well thatís the way itís always been, so thereís no real change. Heck I doubt weíre even that much more aware of it. You really donít think serfs busting their butts in the fields all day didnít notice that the nobleman was having lavish feasts for his nights in the castle up on the hill? I would.


For ''the West'' it does, 4,000 years or so. But that is still not the way everyone thought of things.


Well, the easy one is: Most Native Americans. Of both Americas too.

The Aztecs had slaves. That sort of denotes ownership. A brief Wikipedia read also tells me that they had land ownership and rented and sharecropped land out (like medieval serfs ). So they clearly had a concept of property. So yeah, to suggest that it only existed in the ďwestĒ (before western influence) isnít exactly accurate.

Raimun
2015-01-31, 03:19 AM
This sounds like an argument that's mostly semantics.

If someone has earned an item of value, it is her/his. Being gifted such an item is also a valid way to earn something like that.

Of course, one could always hold the notion that might makes right. That is, if you are able to acquire an item by any means necessary, isn't it yours?

Someone who respects other people might argue that an item can only transfer ownership if the previous owner agrees with this and there is no unfair duress.

At the very best, the line between rightful and unrightful ownership is vague but yet it still seems it is always clear when it is the one and not the other.

Of course, all this... is mine. Not yours.

MrConsideration
2015-01-31, 04:48 PM
Isn't the issue that we're comparing real life societies and their developmental process with societies largely in touch with all-powerful Gods a considerable number of which are invested in the propagation of 'law' and 'civilization' and the rest of it?

I take it that C O S M I C L A W is largely embodied in Lawful Gods, and they approve or don't approve (or even write or transmit) the laws that demi-humanoid societies actually use, some of the time. These laws could define ownership. Whilst in our world all property basically descends from violence (I own this land, this resource... because I - or a state whose laws defend my property rights - can fight off anyone who says otherwise). In D&D, ultimate arbitration can actually be reached by beings made of law, or the Gods, or whatever.

Assuming laws are essentially a product of property rights baffles me. A society that exists in primitive communism and holds everything in common can still have incredibly restrictive social taboos which are enforced with violence by the majority - it might not have a state, or laws, but is it arguably Lawful as a society?

Most adventurers have the same attitude to property as the Orcs in the dungeon - they took it by force and so it is theirs. Like the aforementioned 'good' Dragons, they will generally direct their plundering towards the 'evil' and 'lawless', but this just strikes me as tribalism.

There were very few unclaimed regions in 1400. They just weren't 'claimed' in a manner that fit the mindset of Western imperialists, or the people who claimed they were considered not adequately civilized for their claims to ownership to matter. The steppes colonised by Russia, or the Americas colonised by Western Europeans had plenty of inhabitants, most of whom were assimilated or violently displaced. First Nations peoples weren't busy 'singing with all the colours of the wind' - they had sophisticated societies, with some cities larger than many in Europe, and had widely distributed trade networks. They likely had a communal notion of property, but we are generalizing about a whole continent.

I'd think COSMIC LAW would broadly support whatever parochial and injust system is of sharing out goods and property is used in each region, in contrast to any kind of extralegal arbitration, theft or expropriation which would represent contempt for tradition and practice which would represent COSMIC CHAOS. COSMIC LAW is not about justice, but order. COSMIC GOOD might object to the gross iniquity, and it might be a problem for Lawful Good characters, though. Law is not necessarily good.

Without dwelling on politics, people who are socialists and communists don't believe in 'making everything fair' - that's an impossible task. They believe in common ownership of the means of production because they think it would improve the lives of the vast majority.