Moral Obligation and Natural Capital Commons on Private Land: Perspectives on Peter Gerhart’s Property Law and Social Morality
2 Tex. A&M J. of Real Prop. L. 239 (2015)
35 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2015 Last revised: 27 Aug 2015
Date Written: April 3, 2015
Peter Gerhart's "Property Law and Social Morality" provides a new lens through which to view the distribution of burdens and benefits of property ownership. Gerhart argues that property owners have a legally enforceable moral obligation to be other-regarding in their management of resources under their control. One way this moral obligation is articulated is through codification within positive public law enacted by society using the veil of ignorance. Gerhart's theory fills a gap in privatized commons resource theory by demonstrating that property owners have a moral obligation to be other regarding in their management of common pool natural resources spreading across the aggregate of private and public properties constituting the environment. This obligation means that property owners are not legally entitled to compensation under positive law that restricts the appropriation of those resources, unless positive law interferes with a property owner's right to exclude others from the land base. This book review details the intersection of Gerhart's property theory with privatized commons resource theory, demonstrating a tangible application of his theory in practice.
Keywords: Property, Takings, Natural Capital, Natural Resources, Just Compensation, Nuisance
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