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THE NATURAL RIGHT OF PROPERTY

  • Eric Mack (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

The two main theses of “The Natural Right of Property” are: (i) that persons possess an original, non-acquired right not to be precluded from making extra-personal material their own (or from exercising discretionary control over what they have made their own); and (ii) that this right can and does take the form of a right that others abide by the rules of a (justifiable) practice of property which facilitates persons making extra-personal material their own (and exercising discretionary control over what they have made their own). I articulate some of the good reasons we have to affirm persons' possession of an original, non-acquired right of self-ownership and argue that the same good reasons support the ascription to persons of a natural right of property. I contrast an “inherent feature” conception of the actions through which (initial) rights over extra-personal objects arise with a “practice” conception of (initial) entitlement-generating actions. I argue that the fact that the natural right to property can and does take the form of persons' rights that others abide by the rules of a (justifiable) practice of property explains how there are many instances of (initial) entitlement generation which are not plausibly explained by those wed to the inherent feature conception of entitlement-generating actions and why there is a strong conventional dimension in the procedures through which persons acquire (initial) property rights.

Abstract

The two main theses of “The Natural Right of Property” are: (i) that persons possess an original, non-acquired right not to be precluded from making extra-personal material their own (or from exercising discretionary control over what they have made their own); and (ii) that this right can and does take the form of a right that others abide by the rules of a (justifiable) practice of property which facilitates persons making extra-personal material their own (and exercising discretionary control over what they have made their own). I articulate some of the good reasons we have to affirm persons' possession of an original, non-acquired right of self-ownership and argue that the same good reasons support the ascription to persons of a natural right of property. I contrast an “inherent feature” conception of the actions through which (initial) rights over extra-personal objects arise with a “practice” conception of (initial) entitlement-generating actions. I argue that the fact that the natural right to property can and does take the form of persons' rights that others abide by the rules of a (justifiable) practice of property explains how there are many instances of (initial) entitlement generation which are not plausibly explained by those wed to the inherent feature conception of entitlement-generating actions and why there is a strong conventional dimension in the procedures through which persons acquire (initial) property rights.

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Eric Mack , “Natural and Contractual Rights,” Ethics 87, no. 2 (January1977): 153–59

Sir Robert Filmer , Patriarcha and Other Writings (1680), ed. Johann Sommerville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)

Eric Mack , “The Self-Ownership Proviso: A New and Improved Lockean Proviso,” Social Philosophy and Policy 12, no. 1 (1995): 186218

Mack , “Self-Ownership, Marxism, and Equality: Part I,” Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 1, no. 1 (February2002): 75108

Mack , “Self-Ownership, Marxism, and Equality: Part II,” Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 1, no. 2 (June2002): 237–76

Neil MacCormick in “Voluntary Obligations and Normative Powers I,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplement 46 (1972): 5978

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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