The English philosopher John Locke offered a theory of property against which all others have since been measured. Locke said that personal property is a natural right, given by God. One line of his argument emphasizes the human need for self-preservation; here property rights are seen as a necessary instrument for peacefully distributing nature's bounty. Second (and more famously), Locke defends the earliest formation of property in a series of four steps: (1) every person owns his or her self and capacity to work (i.e. his or her labor); (2) by mixing what one owns (labor) with nature's common property, we make other things our own; (3) the consent of others is irrelevant to this process of securing property; and (4) "as much and as good" of nature's bounty must be left for others.
David Hume criticized Locke, insisting that property is not a natural right but rather a social convention that reflects self-interest and the desire to protect what we own. Jeremy Bentham insisted that only government (rather than society in general) can bestow property rights. Property ultimately involves personal control and security, as often opposed to other individual interests and to the overall interest or advantage of society. This tension is seen in issues like slavery, abortion, euthanasia, organ donation, government regulation, taxation, the power of eminent domain, welfare, and a variety of coercive social programs.
What members say
Not encyclopedic, but thought-provoking
The written description describes it well. The focus is mostly on basic theories and bundles of property rights, as they coalesced coming into the formation of the USA. It thus still has much pertinence. It is a sort of philosophical piece, not an exposition of recent creative nuts and bolts of property financing and so on. It asks such questions as, how all-powerful and exclusive should an owner's rights be? What is inherently owed, or not, to the society in which the property is held, and to various non-owner members of that society? What can be deemed mine, "owned," thus potentially traded or sold, extending to such things as my own body parts, etc.? When and where, and for what reasons, should the government have the ability to limit such transactions? There is a lot here, for a budget-priced book and 3 hours' length.
3 people found this helpful
- Terre Spencer
This piece gives a fair overview of Western European and American ideas of ownership. I was hoping for a more historically comprehnsive and worldwide compilation of views and especially ideas for ownership concepts and legal adaptations for the future.
Patriarchal concepts and laws that consider women, land and natural resources children as property in most of the world were unchallenged/unquestioned in this piece. "Property" describes without questioning the ethical basis and ramifications of Western ideas/laws regarding ownership. So three stars for description and one star for enquiry. No stars at all for failing to examine more concepts.
There is an incompletedness about the piece as it is. perhaps a companion piece with a broader information base would allow the listener/reader to begin to create new innovations that would make this world a better place for all those affected by ideas and laws regarding the concept of "property."
3 people found this helpful