True story: A few years back, the libertarian magazine Liberty posed a thought experiment. I don’t remember all the details, but it went something like this. A man is on the top or near the top of a high-rise. He falls but catches himself on the flagpole of an apartment beneath him. The owner of the apartment, an enthusiast of the sort you might find in the comments section of many blogs, comes out, armed to the teeth, and tells the hapless man that the flagpole is private property and that he must therefore let go. Liberty polled its readers to ask them if they would comply. A majority, apparently, said they would not. Wouldn’t you just love to meet the minority who said that they would? Libertarians, incidentally, still debate the ethics and implications of this question.
Update (10:30 am)
Commenter Anwar kindly found the Liberty poll and the results. See “Problem 4.” The results are not quite as dramatic as I had remembered them. Unfortunately, I wish the question had been framed as one of obligation—”Are you obliged to comply with the owner’s demands?”—as opposed to how it is framed, which could suggest something more like, “What would you do?”