I was influenced by Stephan Kinsella in the idea that one can’t own his act of laboring any more than one can own walking or climbing or punching.
This poses a problem for the labor theory of property.
But is the problem fatal? I think not. It is true that if I own a good such as a lamp, then it is awkward to say that I own the services of the lamp such as illumination. Very well, let us say that I have a right to the lamp’s light instead. But why have such a right if not to be secure in the enjoyment of the activities that the lamp’s services make possible?
Again, I own my body which Kinsella admits; hence I have a right to chop wood; but this is for the sake of the security of enjoying the wood that has been chopped; which is identical to saying that I own the wood created through the exercise of my labor.
A sculptor has a right to work on an unowned piece of clay; but why perform the work if the statue thereby produced cannot become exclusively his?
I (and everyone else) have the right to plant crops on a parcel of land, since planting is laboring which is an act of the body which I own. But the right would be for naught unless the harvest could be gathered and profited from. But this can only occur if I can exclude others from using the land. I ipso facto end up owning not just the crops but the land, as well.
The formal argument then is as follows:
1) If I do not come to own the good labored on, then the fruits of my labor are not secure from expropriation.
2) If the fruits of my labor are not secure (in the legal sense), then the right to labor is meaningless.
3) If the right to labor is meaningless, then I do not really own my body.
4) But I do own my body.
Therefore, by modus tollens,
5) I own what I labor on.