The institutional theory of property is that view that property rights are entirely and essentially conventional and are the creatures of states and coercively backed legal systems. In this paper, I argue that, although states and legal systems have a valuable role in deﬁning property rights, the institutional story is not the whole story. Rather, the property rights hat we have reason to recognize as part of justice are partly conventional in character and partly rooted in universal human interests and (...) dispositions. (shrink)
This paper offers a conditional defence of a minimalist theory of appropriation. The conclusion of its main argument is that, if people do enjoy a natural right to appropriate unappropriated resources, then that right is best understood as a derivative right that stems from a more fundamental natural right to self-preservation. If this conclusion is correct, then insofar as people have a natural right to appropriation, it is much more limited than it is usually assumed, as the minimalist theory places (...) very stringent restrictions on both the amount of unappropriated resources each person has a right to appropriate and the use they can make of those appropriated resources. The conclusion of my argument can be either used as a premise in a modus tollens argument to be used against natural-right theories of property rights or as a premise in a modus ponens argument in favour of a broadly left-libertarian theory. (shrink)
Libertarianism is a theory of justice that places significant moral weight on exclusive property rights. On this basis, many libertarian philosophers, from Robert Nozick to Michael Huemer, criticize any form of income redistribution. Ironically, some libertarians, following Philippe Van Parijs, Matt Zwolinski, and Charles Murray, have supported the introduction of an unconditional basic income. This essay seeks to prove that this support is not just a political compromise. By contrast, libertarian justice advocates have a strong moral basis for supporting income (...) redistribution in the form of unconditional cash payments. This essay explores one such reason, the Lockean proviso. The Lockean proviso is a moral requirement for the appropriation of unowned resources to leave “enough and as good” for others. There are many interpretations of the Lockean proviso, but the most ambitious are the egalitarian proviso and the sufficiency proviso. Each of them, but for different reasons, requires the introduction of a basic income. The egalitarian proviso establishes the equal rights of all people to natural resources, and therefore requires that all benefits from the ownership of natural resources be shared egalitarianly — in the form of unconditional equal payments. The sufficiency proviso establishes some threshold of sufficiency, and then imposes a restriction on exclusive property rights so that they can’t prevent redistribution in order to raise all people to the threshold of sufficiency. However, while both provisos require a basic income, they diverge on three important dimensions in assessing this basic income: applicability, taxable base, and amount of cash payments. (shrink)
Citation: Marina Christodoulou, “I Own therefore I Am. The Ontology of Property”, In Why Does What Exists Exist? Some Hypotheses on the Ultimate “Why” Question, edited by Mariano L. Bianca,Paolo Piccari. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021, pp. 169-182. Contributors: Mariano L. Bianca, Konstantinos Boultzis, Marina Christodoulou, Maurizio Ferraris, Marco G. Giammarchi, Enrico Guglielminetti, Roberta Lanfredini, Fabio Minazzi, Crister Nyberg, Paolo Piccari, Paolo Rossi. ISBN (10): 1-5275-6294-8; ISBN (13): 978-1-5275-6294-3 -/- -------------- -/- The concept of Property is what attaches us to Existence, (...) Property, and Life, instead of non-existence, non-Being and Non-life (or Death). I occupy, I possess, I own, therefore I am, therefore I exist. I own a body, therefore, I am a being; I also own a self, therefore I am. -/- What exists exists because we have the notion, the concept, the idea, the habit of property and of ownership. There is something rather than nothing because we own it. Why private property? Because we have the notion, the concept, the idea, the habit of property and of ownership. There is private property because we need to own things, including ourselves, and we need to own because we need to sign and vice versa. (shrink)
The various features of bioethics center around a person’s right to decide what happens to her body and what she may do with it. This is true for patients and medical professionals. Our intuitions concerning rights in bioethics are similar to our intuitions concerning rights in other areas. Consider, for example, rights concerning movement, privacy, religion, sex, speech, and thought. Intuitively, these rights are consistent with one another, trump other moral considerations, and can be lost. If people were to own (...) themselves, this would provide a unified explanation of what justifies other rights, what particular rights people have, why these particular rights are consistent with one another, and why these particular rights have certain features, such as trumping utility. Here I explore whether people own themselves. (shrink)
It is common to posit a clear opposition between the values served by property systems and the value of the environment. To give the environment its due, this view holds, the role of private property needs to be limited. Support for this has been said to be found in Locke’s famous ‘enough and as good’ proviso. This article shows that this opposition is mistaken, and corrects the implied reading of Locke’s proviso. In reality, there is no opposition between property and (...) the environment. This is shown using Locke’s theory of appropriation, as well as the real-life case of instream water appropriation. (shrink)
The Lockean theory of property licenses unilateral appropriation on the condition that there be ‘enough, and as good left in common for others’. However, the meaning of this proviso is all but clear. This article argues that the proviso is centered around the Lockean theory of freedom. To be free, I argue, we must be ‘non-subjected’ in the exercise of our rights, including our rights to appropriate. We enjoy such freedom only when the ability to exercise our rights does not (...) depend on others. That can obtain if literally enough and as good is left in common. But it can also obtain in other ways, for example through competitive labour markets. The latter offer something as good as ‘enough and as good’. (shrink)
I argue that the Lockean 'enough and as good' proviso provides support for egalitarian as opposed to libertarian or sufficientarian claims over worldly resources. These egalitarian claims apply to contemporary advanced industrial societies with money-based economies as well as primitive agrarian barter economies. But the full 'luck egalitarian' complement of equality of opportunity for welfare cannot be derived from a Lockean approach that focuses on our egalitarian claims to unowned bits of the world. For that, we need to reach beyond (...) Locke, and appeal to complaints of unfairness that have nothing in particular to do with our claims to worldly resources. (shrink)
Libertarians concede that non-autonomous sentient beings pose a problem for their theory. But, while they acknowledge that libertarianism denies non-autonomous sentient beings basic moral rights, libertarians have overlooked how their theory also denies non-autonomous sentient beings basic moral powers. In this article, I show how the libertarian entitlement theory of justice, specifically, the theory for the original acquisition of holdings, denies non-autonomous sentient beings the moral power to originally acquire or make property. Attempts to avoid this problem by appealing to (...) interests or preference autonomy are likely to be unsuccessful. (shrink)
Society, based on contract and voluntary exchange, is evolving, but remains only partly developed. Goods and services that meet the needs of individuals, such as food, clothing, and shelter, are amply produced and distributed through the market process. However, those that meet common or community needs, while distributed through the market, are produced politically through taxation and violence. These goods attach not to individuals but to a place; to enjoy them, individuals must go to the place where they are. Land (...) owners, all unknowingly, distribute such services contractually as they rent or sell sites. Rent or price is the market value of such services, net after disservices, as they affect each site. By distributing occupancies to those who can pay the highest price, land owners’ interests align with those of society. Without this, tenure would be precarious—by force or favor of politicians. The 18th-century separation of land from state, so little studied by historians, permitted the development of modern property in land. This change is perhaps “the greatest single step in the evolution of Society the world has ever seen.” When land owners realize that they market community services, they will organize to produce and administer them as well, and society will be made whole. (shrink)
I present and defend Reinach's theory of ownership according to which, prior to the positive law, one finds a distinction between possession, ownership and property rights. Ownership is not a bundle of positive rights, but a primitive natural relation that grounds the absolute right to behave as one wishes towards the thing one owns. In reply to some objections raised against it, I argue that Reinach's theory of property is morally and politically non-committal; and that it in fact has the (...) ressources for dealing with the vexing issue of the origin of ownership. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant is recognized as one of the first philosophers who wrote systematically about global justice and world peace. In the current debate on global justice he is mostly appealed to by critics of extensive duties of global justice. However, I show in this paper that an analysis of Kant’s late work on rights and justice provides ample resources for disagreeing with those who take Kant to call for only modest changes in global politics. Kant’s comments in the Doctrine of (...) Right clarify that he thinks we need a coercively enforced global civil condition. But his work also contains ideas that imply that within such a global legal order there must be no extreme forms of poverty and inequality, and that the current holdings of states are by no means conclusive possessions without confirmation by the global legal order we have a duty to establish. Thus, this paper challenges the prevailing interpretation of Kant as a conservative thinker about global justice that is held, for instance, by the leading contemporary liberal thinkers such as John Rawls, Thomas Nagel, and Ronald Dworkin. (shrink)
The paper argues that members of future generations have an entitlement to natural resources equal to ours. Therefore, if a currently living individual destroys or degrades natural resources then he must pay compensation to members of future generations. This compensation takes the form of “primary goods” which will be valued by members of future generations as equally useful for promoting the good life as the natural resources they have been deprived of. As a result of this policy, each generation inherits (...) a “Commonwealth” of natural resources plus compensation. It is this inherited “Commonwealth” which members of that generation must then pass on to members of the next generation. Once this picture is accepted, the standard bundle of property rights is problematic, for it takes the owner of a constituent of the Commonwealth to have the right to “waste, destroy or modify” that item at will. This paper therefore presents a revised set of property rights which takes seriously the idea that each generation has an equal claim on the resources that nature has bequeathed us, whilst allowing certain effects on those natural resources by each generation, and a degree of exclusive use of those natural resources owned by an individual. (shrink)
At the basis of modern natural law theories, the concept of the suum, or what belongs to the person (in Latin, his, her, its, their own), has received little scholarly attention despite its importance both in explaining and justifying not only the genealogy of property, but also that of morality and war.1 In this paper I examine Hugo Grotius's what it is, what things it includes, what rights it gives rise to and how it is extended in the transition from (...) the state of nature to civil society. I then briefly point out how bringing this concept back to the fore could help to illuminate the current discussion on the foundations of basic human rights, and to evaluate cases where these seem to clash with property rights. (shrink)
John Locke held that every person has a natural duty to use her property efficiently, and that consent is required for legitimate political power. On the face of it, these two positions seem to be in tension. This is because, (1) according to Locke, it is nearly impossible to use resources efficiently unless one lives within a political community, and (2)the waste restriction is enforceable. Consequently, it might seem that persons living outside civil society may be forced to submit to (...) civil power, in violation of the consent requirement. I argue that this tension is only apparent; although the waste restriction is enforceable, the consent requirement is safe. But in the course of resolving this difficulty, three significant, but little-noticed, features of Locke's doctrine of consent to government come to light: (A) consent is conceptually necessary, and not just morally required, for persons to be subject to political power; (B) most people living outside civil society have a moral obligation to enter civil society if they can; and (C) consent to government can bind under duress so long as the duress does not render anyone dependent on the arbitrary wills of others. (shrink)
This paper is an evaluation of John Locke's labour theory of property. Section I sets out Locke's labour view. Section II addresses several possible objections, including against the conceptual coherence of Locke's argument, against the metaphysical implications of his view, as well as foundational criticisms of the moral significance of labour and of my relations with objects that are grounded in labour under certain conditions and circumstances. I attempt to address each of these criticisms in a Lockian spirit, which will (...) require strange metaphysical moves. The final Section raises further objections that are more significant because they cannot be squared with the labour view. (shrink)
No natural rights theory justifies strong intellectual property rights. More specifically, no theory within the entire domain of natural rights thinking – encompassing classical liberalism, libertarianism and left-libertarianism, in all their innumerable variants – coherently supports strengthening current intellectual property rights. Despite their many important differences, all these natural rights theories endorse some set of members of a common family of basic ethical precepts. These commitments include non-interference, fairness, non-worsening, consistency, universalisability, prior consent, self-ownership, self-governance, and the establishment of zones (...) of autonomy. Such commitments have clear applications pertaining to the use and ownership of created ideas. I argue that each of these commitments require intellectual property rights to be substantially limited in scope, strength and duration. In this way the core mechanisms of natural rights thinking ensure a robust public domain and categorically rule out strong intellectual property rights. (shrink)
A controversy in political philosophy and applied ethics concerns the validity of duty‐imposing powers, that is, rights entitling one person to impose new duties on others without their consent. Many philosophers have criticized as unplausible any such moral right, in particular that of appropriating private property unilaterally. Some, finding duty‐imposing powers weird, unfamiliar or baseless, have argued that principles of justified acquisition should be rejected; others have required them to satisfy exacting criteria. I investigate the many ways in which we (...) regularly impose duties on one another without prior consent. I show that doing so is not weird, and I offer criteria which demarcate the reasonable from the worrisome aspects of duty‐imposing powers. (shrink)
I here defend historical entitlement theories of property rights against a popular charge. This is the objection that such theories fail because no convincing account of original appropriation exists. I argue that this argument assumes a certain reading of historical entitlement theory and I spell out an alternative reading against which it misfires. On this reading, the role of acts of original appropriation is not to justify but to individuate people’s holdings. I argue that we can identify which acts count (...) as original appropriation against the background of a general justification for a practice of property rights. On this view, what I will call ‘natural’ acts of original appropriation are acts by which a person begins to satisfy the general conditions for justified ownership. Finally, I offer an interpretation of John Locke's theory of appropriation along these lines and argue that it provides an attractive reading of his view. (shrink)
This paper explores the possibility of extending Locke’s theory with respect to tangible property so that it might offer a feasible theoretical basis for intellectual property too. The main conclusion is that such an attempt must fail. Locke’s theory comes in three parts: a general justification of property which serves to explain why assets ought to be under the exclusive control of individuals; a positive method of private appropriation whereby an individual acquires a prima facie exclusive claim to previously commonly (...) held natural resources; and third, a negative requirement that other individuals’ crucial interests are not harmed by such an appropriation. For each of these, the difficulties involved in applying that part of the theory to the sphere of ideas are discussed, and a central aspect of intellectual property that raises the problems of application is highlighted. (shrink)
Własność prywatna nie jest żadnym naturalnym uprawnieniem, ale prawną konwencją zdefiniowaną przez system podatkowy. Stopień ingerencji w rzekomo naturalne prawo własności nie może być podstawą oceniania systemów podatkowych, bo sama własność jest wytworem takich systemów. Podatki nie odbierają nam własności, tylko umożliwiają jej istnienie.
Contrary to much Kant interpretation, this article argues that Kant's moral philosophy, including his account of charity, is irrelevant to justifying the state's right to redistribute material resources to secure the rights of dependents (the poor, children, and the impaired). The article also rejects the popular view that Kant either does not or cannot justify anything remotely similar to the liberal welfare state. A closer look at Kant's account of dependency relations in “The Doctrine of Right” reveals an argumentative structure (...) sufficient for a public institutional protection of dependents and evidence that Kant identifies concerns of economic justice as lying at the heart of the state's legitimacy. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the potentially environmentally destructive scope of a libertarian property rights regime can be narrowed by applying reasonable limits to those rights. I will claim that excluding the right to destroy from the libertarian property rights bundle is consistent with self-ownership and Robert Nozick’s interpretation of the Lockean proviso.
The paper is an analysis of Rousseau’s concept of property. It shows that Rousseau wants to draft a new system of politics that will not forbid private property but will limit its scale. It aims to clarify that Rousseau owes much to John Locke’s theory and even adopts Locke’s definition that it is a basic purpose of the social contract to protect the citizen’s property. It is argued that in spite of these similarities Rousseau’s account differs fundamentally from Locke’s. Having (...) a right of ownership to something for Locke means to be entitled to exclude anybody else from it: to say “this is mine” in Locke is synonymous to “it is not yours”. For Rousseau having a right of ownership to something implies a self-limitation by the proprietor: to say “this is mine” in Rousseau signifies “everything else is not mine”. While property rights in Locke have the purpose of legitimizing “pleonexia” and economic inequality, Rousseau tries to use them as restrictions to citizens’ desires and greed. (shrink)
A private property right is a collection of particular rights that relate to the control of an object. The ground for such moral rights rests on the value of project pursuit. It does so because the individual ownership of particular objects is intimately related to the formation and application of a coherent set of projects that are the major parts of a self-shaped life. Problems arise in explaining how unowned property is appropriated. Unilateral acts with regard to an object, e.g., (...) mixing in one’s labor into it, probably don’t ground particular rights to private property. Nor do bilateral contracts since a stable pre-institutional contract with regard to appropriation is not likely to form. However, a conventional method of appropriation can allow for such appropriation while at the same time preserving the pre-institutional nature of such rights. This theory can also account for a person’s property rights in her own body. However, the value of project formation requires that persons have at least some private property that is to serve as the object of their projects. These positive rights to property undermine the libertarian claim that all non-commitment-based rights are negative. However, a further empirical argument is needed in order to justify protecting these positive moral rights to private property by positive legal rights. (shrink)
It is noteworthy that much of recent liberal scholarship aimed at empowering aboriginal peoples, and supporting their land rights, has often unwittingly embraced the conservative Lockean‐Nozickian tradition rather than the tradition of left‐leaning thinkers. Many of the supporters of aboriginal land rights tend to view property rights as contingently determined historical entitlements which are established independently of the state’s authority, thereby creating structures which morally bind the authority of the state. This, in fact, also represents the view of the conservative (...) supporters of untrammelled capitalism. Secondly, there is often little discussion of the bundle of rights which are derived from these acts of original acquisition. This may lead one to the assumption that these supporters of aboriginal land rights agree with the conservative view that all the recognised components of modern liberal ownership, from the right to use, to the right to income, are acquired in the initial events associated with historical entitlement. It is my argument in this paper that basing aboriginal land claims solely on customary historical entitlement results in too close an alignment with a conservative ideology which has been used to support unrestrained capitalism. (shrink)
Dramatic changes or revolutions in a field of science are often made by outsiders or 'trespassers,' who are not limited by the established, 'expert' approaches. Each essay in this diverse collection shows the fruits of intellectual trespassing and poaching among fields such as economics, Kantian ethics, Platonic philosophy, category theory, double-entry accounting, arbitrage, algebraic logic, series-parallel duality, and financial arithmetic.
In "Morals by Agreement", David Gauthier attempts to derive property rights from a moral principle called the Lockean proviso. The derivation fails, and the true implications of the moral principles which Gauthier invokes are quite different. These principles imply that persons have extensive liberties to use physical materials, but relatively few rights against interference by others in this use. Robert Nozick argues for an extensive system of property rights in "Anarchy, State, and Utopia"; his argument fails for similar reasons.
Gauthier's version of the Lockean proviso (in Morals by Agreement) is inappropriate as the foundation for moral rights he takes it to be. This is so for a number of reasons. It lacks any proportionality test thus allowing arbitrarily severe harms to others to prevent trivial harms to oneself. It allows one to inflict any harm on another provided that if one did not do so, someone else would. And, by interpreting the notion of bettering or worsening one's position in (...) terms of subjective expected utility, it allows immoral manipulation of others and imposes unwarranted restrictions based on preferences that should carry no moral weight. (shrink)
There is a great deal that might be said about justice in property claims. The strategy that I shall employ focuses attention upon the initial acquisition of property -- the most sensitive and most interesting area of property theory. Every theory that discusses property claims favorably assumes that there is some justification for transforming previously unowned resources into property. It is often this assumption which has seemed, to one extent or another, to be vulnerable to attack by critics of particular (...) justifications of property. Nevertheless, this assumption is frequently left undefended by property theorists, and where it is defended, the defense is often remarkably weak. That some initial claim to property be defensible is required by any theory which holds that certain present distributions may be justified, that certain transfers of property are justified, or that restitution ought to be made for previous injustice in transfer or acquisition. The initial acquisition of property, and its justification, is crucial to the remainder of property theory. (shrink)
This symposium paper for the APA analyzes Locke's labor theory of property acquisition as a formal argument – or set of alternative arguments – and shows how several of them are indeed sound, if appropriately limited by what amounts to a social welfare proviso. That proviso is, however, strong enough to limit the acquisition of private property in a significant way. The argument here anticipates fuller and more decisive ones in later work by the same author.