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  • Cited by 2
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Lindsay, Peter 2015. Ownership by Agreement. Political Studies, Vol. 63, Issue. 4, p. 935.

    Fox, Glenn 2012. The Origins, Nature, and Content of the Right to Property: Five Economic Solitudes. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Vol. 60, Issue. 1, p. 11.



  • David Schmidtz (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2010

When we’re trying to articulate principles of justice that we have reason to take seriously in a world like ours, one way to start is with an understanding of what our world is like, and of which institutional frameworks promote our thriving in communities and which do not. If we start this way, we can sort out alleged principles of justice by asking which ones license mutual expectations that promote our thriving and which ones do otherwise. This is an essay in the how and why of nonideal theory: in particular, how and why principles of property come first and principles of justice second. Ownership conventions, and property law as it develops under the pressures of case by case dispute resolution, tend to become touchstones for conflict mediation down through generations. They may be imperfect, retaining vestiges of adaptations to ancient problems that no longer exist, yet still they work, coordinating expectations so as to make it easier for people to live well together. A priori reasons for endorsing principles of justice generally are not good enough. A good enough reason would be something like this: to endorse this way of applying this principle in this kind of circumstance is to support institutional frameworks that position us to play positive sum games.

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Guido Calabresi and A. Douglas Melamed , “Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral,” Harvard Law Review 85 (1972): 10891128

Linda Radzik , Making Amends (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Charles Griswold , Forgiveness (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

David Schmidtz and Jason Brennan , A Brief History of Liberty (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2010)

Thomas Christiano , in The Constitution of Equality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Robert C. Ellickson , “Property in Land,” Yale Law Journal 102 (1993): 13151400

Carol Rose , “Possession as the Origin of Property,” University of Chicago Law Review 52 (1985): 7388

Carol Rose , “The Comedy of the Commons: Custom, Commerce, and Inherently Public Property,” University of Chicago Law Review 53 (1986): 711–87

Elinor Ostrom , Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)

Schmidtz, The Elements of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

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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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