Questions: Holdouts and Self-Owning Property

While doing some reading on weapons from Bonnie Scotland, I came across this:

“When the Highlander visited a house on his travels having deposited all his other weapons at the front door he did not divest himself of his concealed dagger, since in these far off days it was unsafe to be ever totally unarmed, not because he feared his host but rather because he feared intrusions from outside. Accordingly, although retaining the dagger; out of courtesy to his host he removed it from its place of concealment and put it somewhere where his host could see it, invariably in his stocking on the side of his hand (right- or left-handed).”

Obviously requiring a visitor to disarm themselves has already been established as rather impolite elsewhere, but are there any particular courtesies or points of customary etiquette regarding walking into someone’s house while carrying a concealed “holdout” weapon?

It’s similar but not identical: as you note, it would be bad form to ask a visitor to disarm. On the other hand, it’s also bad form (unless you have some particular special role, such as “professional bodyguard playing the concealed role” or “guild assassin”, or circumstance, such as “travelling abroad among presumptuous barbarians”) to go around with concealed weapons. A daryteir (gentlesoph) wears his weapons openly.

(Of course, if it’s a halfway decent concealed weapon, it’s also an easy bit of bad form to get away with. But a gentlesoph should know better.)

So what would be the legal status of the Tree That Owns Itself under Imperial law?

More generally, does Imperial law recognize the concept that property can be owned by an “owner” that is non-sophont (or, indeed, inanimate)?

Well, the simple answer is no, as the general case is – as it is *here*, which is why the Tree That Owns Itself really doesn’t in legal terms – that you can only convey property to something which has the legal capacity to receive it, which is to say a legal person.

The more complicated answer is “yes, sort of”, in a couple of ways:

  • Uplift the tree to turn it into a natural person, which is implicitly also a legal person, and not only thereby can own itself, but automatically does.

But that’s a little complicated. The more useful general way of doing this is:

  • Incorporate a trust, or define a smart-contract, to act on the tree’s behalf. As legal persons, either of them can own it. Assign the trust the fiduciary duty to act in the tree’s interests, or program the smart-contract likewise, and you’ve created something legally isomorphic to the self-ownership of sophont persons – or at least enough so that you could comfortably refer to it as owning itself in any register other than formal legal terms.