Seasteading Thought Experiment

Introduction and Purpose

I find this scenario useful when considering any issue that involves being “captive” (more or less) to a geographic location. How much does this “captivity” allow others to control us or force us to make concessions to the will of others? For example, the issue of immigration, when considering this scenario, is seen as one of necessarily forcing fellow natives to live with either open borders or controlled borders.

The Physical Scenario

Imagine a large planet with no land mass and covered by a single vast ocean. Each single person or family has a floating island which they can navigate anywhere they want upon this planet. Each of these floating islands is capable of docking or undocking to another island or community of docked islands. Each island is pretty much self-sustaining, at least for several weeks, allowing each individual or family to traverse this planet before having to dock with another island or island community.

Rules of the Game

Mutual Consent to Dock

Any two islands are free to dock together, provided there is mutual consent. This is also true of any docking between an island and an island community or two island communities. Docking may be for an indeterminate period of time or for a set period of time to achieve an agreed upon purpose.

Unilateral Undocking

Any island is free to undock at anytime. No mutual consent is required to undock. The same is true of any community of islands. A subset of a community may undock from a superset. A superset may undock from a subset. There is no compulsory docking of any kind.

Concept of Operation

Individual islands will be able to dock with a community of their choice. Each island community is free to establish whatever form of self-government they want or believe will best suit them. This includes any function required to sustain their community and to establish support for values. Each community is free to establish a form of defense, to ward off pirate communities (or any community that wants to force dock). Each community may wish to attract (or not attract) new comers, but anyone must be free to leave (undock). The idea is that, over time, there would be a dynamic but relatively stable set of peaceful and pluralistic communities.


If applicable, find a stance in which your position is challenged in some way by this freedom from captivity. Tells us about it!

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Mark Anthony Rivera

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Mark Rivera is a retired physicist of 32 years. He specialized in optical physics, photonics, and image processing. Today he lives with his wife on the big island of Hawaii. Most of his time is spent restoring a 1933 plantation home. When he is not doing that, he is either hiking, doing some kind of image processing, or reading about politics and liberty. He also does a bit of tutoring for those who need help passing their physics or math classes.

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2 Comments on "Seasteading Thought Experiment"

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Skyler J. Collins (Editor)

Now this is interesting. I like it!… One question for thought: what happens when someone becomes “landlocked” and must incur extra costs to leaving?

Mark A Rivera
Mark A Rivera

I suspect each floating community would have its own rules!