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