|(Please suspend your disbelief on the implausibility of this scenario; it is designed to probe moral and philosophical questions related to the origin of property rights)|
It is the present day. John, a wealthy Canadian man, is sailing the ocean alone in his private ship. Miraculously, he comes across a large island not on any map. Somehow, he has discovered a piece of land completely missed by explorers and satelites!
The beautiful tropical island is rich in resources - oil and gold particularly - and the soil is rich for farming. However, the island is not uninhabited. A primitive tribe called the Kikis lives there. The Kikis are a proud hunter/gatherer people who live a hand-to-mouth existence. Given their society is little more than a collectivist commune, they Kikis have virtually no notion of property rights.
Although communication is difficult at first, John and the Kikis somehow establish a line of communication. John shows them some of the marvels of modern technology that he happens to have on his boat (televisions, power tools, electric lights, air conditioning, two way radios etc.) and the Kikis are amazed and intrigued. John tells the Kikis that he will will return with a whole boatload of such goodies if they let him develop portions of the land to drill for oil and mine for gold. The tribal elders meet to discuss John's offer, and eventually decide to decline. The Kiki elders tell John that the Great Sun God has intended them to live in their traditional ways for all of eternity, and that they cannot upset the Sun God. John attempts to reason with them, but they will not even negotiate - they are impervious to reason. John eventually decides to leave the island.
Now, here are a few quick questions:
1. Does John have the moral right to return to the island with some oil drillers and simply start harvesting the resources, even if it pisses off the Kikis? After all, the Kikis certainly aren't making any use of them! Or, do the Kikis posess 'aboriginal' rights to the land since they were there first? In other words, should the modern world just leave the island alone?
2. If John were to claim any or all of the land, is the island John's own country, or does it belong to Canada? Or does it belong to the nearest landed country in geographic proximity?