Private Ownership

Avihay Dorfman

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

December 1, 2009

Legal Theory, Vol. 16, pp. 1-35, 2010

The most powerful response to the growing skepticism about the intelligibility of the idea of private ownership has been cast in terms of owners’ rights to the exclusive use of an object. In these pages, I argue that this response suffers from three basic deficiencies, rather than merely explanatory gaps, that render it unable to overcome the spectre of skepticism. These deficiencies reflect a shared want of attention to the normative relationship that ownership engenders between owners and non-owners. In place of the right to exclusive use, I set out to develop an account of private ownership that seeks to defeat skepticism concerning this idea. The proposed account insists that the idea of private ownership picks out a special authority relation between an owner and a non-owner involving the normative standing of the latter in relation to an object owned by the former. I further demonstrate the important place of this idea in shaping the contours of normative disagreements about the point of ownership rights and responsibilities.

Keywords: ownership, property theory, exclusive use, authority relations, normative standing, Marx, fact of disagreements

JEL Classification: K11

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Date posted: January 25, 2010 ; Last revised: August 20, 2010

Suggested Citation

Dorfman, Avihay, Private Ownership (December 1, 2009). Legal Theory, Vol. 16, pp. 1-35, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1540702

Contact Information

Avihay Dorfman (Contact Author)
Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )
Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, IL
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