That which argumentation presupposes
Hoppe claims that argumentation presupposes self-ownership. Is his self-ownership the normative, prescriptive self-ownership of the NAP, or is it a purely descriptive, positive description of bodily self-control?
We can interpret ownership as purely positive and descriptive, a description of who possesses and uses what. The descriptive interpretation of “argument presupposes self-ownership” makes sense – in order to engage in argumentation, your mind must control your body. As soon as this stops, so will argument. If it resumes, argument may also resume. So argument presupposes self-ownership in this practical sense. But Hoppe cannot derive his desired conclusion from this. All he gets is “No one may deny that people use their bodies to argue.” Statist alternatives to private property have no need to deny that people use their bodies when they argue. Hoppe needs ownership to mean more than mere possession and use.
Alternatively, we can interpret ownership normatively and prescriptively, as describing whether what happens ought to happen, is good, is superior to something else by some criteria. This self-ownership signifies legitimate possession, morally unassailable use. If argumentation presupposes that private property is legitimate, this allows Hoppe to conclude that socialism fails logically by contradicting a prerequisite of argument. But can he really convince us that this is what argument presupposes? Why would argumentation be impossible if private property was illegitimate or somehow inferior to some other social arrangement?
So it’s clear how argumentation depends on self-ownership in a descriptive, purely practical sense, but not how it might depend on normative self-ownership. Without that connection between normative self-ownership and argumentation, Hoppe’s argument fails.
How might Hoppe convince us of this connection? He could make additional assumptions and arguments to explain the connection between argumentation and the normative legitimacy of self-ownership. But he seems unaware that any problem exists. What am I missing? Comments welcome.
Where are we now? How can we move forward?