While I definitely enjoyed this wonderful critique by Professor Matt Zwolinski of libertarian views on pollution in relation to private property rights, what I found most interesting is the fact that when the logic discussed in this video is applied to every aspect of life, ABSOLUTE private property rights, especially when encompassing the core libertarian principle of self-ownership, is shown to be impossible.
Let me explain: In the video, Zwolinski notes that if a person's property is harmed or tainted against their will, including their own body, then their private property rights have been violated. It then follows that pollution which is undesired, including dumping waste on a person's lawn, releasing smoke through their window, playing music a person is annoyed by, and emitting carbon dioxide which degrades the integrity of people's property- all of these are violations of property rights. Thus, when libertarianism is taken to its extreme, it is truly environmentally friendly, but it is also impractical and in some respects impossible to implement.
Such arguments are impressive and certainly effectively demonstrates a critical flaw in core libertarian principles which needs to be amended, expanded upon, or as I'm sure Matt Zwolinski would agree, transformed to be practical and beneficial in the world. But let's take that same logic and apply it to every other aspect of life: Every individual in some way contributes to the conditioning of the environment in which other individuals live. Furthermore, the vast majority of conditioning that takes place is not consented to by others, and in fact they are not even aware that it is taking place. Thus, when private property rights are taken to their absolute extreme, they are impossible to enforce, because everyone necessarily modifies, develops, and violates the property and person of others, whether we want to or not. It's an inevitable fact of life.
This is a powerful critique of private property rights which rigorously proves that even if private property rights are "natural" as natural rights proponents hold, they are not absolute or unrestricted; that is, private property rights must be restricted so they do not violate the rights of others, and at the same time, they must not be absolute, as we have already established this to be both impractical and logically unfeasible. Private property rights are a crucial part of a free society, as they facilitate free trade, minimize transaction costs, protect investments, and serve as the foundation for the defense of rights. But for private property rights to be beneficial, they must strike a balance, as the arguments above (and those given by Zwolinski in the podcast) demonstrate. We need to redefine private property rights to be more consistent with a rational view of rights which best serves individuals and is most beneficial to society.