Two Challenges to the Idea of Intellectual Property

The Monist 93 (3):382-394 (2010)
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Although the expression 'intellectual property' is widely used, it could be argued that the very idea of intellectual property is incoherent. After all, ideas are not like land, houses or clothing; surely they are not the sorts of things that can be owned? I shall examine two arguments - one ontological, one jurisprudential - that put pressure on the coherence of the idea of intellectual property, both leading to the conclusion that intellectual property rights are not genuine property rights, but rights to monopolies. In setting up and responding to the first argument, I discuss the applicability of the type/ token distinction to intellectual property law; a distinction I also appeal to as a way of clarifying my response to the second argument



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How (Un)fair is Intellectual Property?Axel Gosseries - 2008 - In Gosseries Axel, Marciano A. & Strowel A. (eds.), Intellectual Property and Theories of Justice. Basingstoke & N.Y.: Palgrave McMillan.


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Laura Biron
University of Kent at Canterbury

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