Book Review, of Adam J. Macleod, Property and Practical Reason
79 Modern Law Review 751 (2016)
Posted: 7 Jul 2016
Date Written: July 6, 2016
This review is a 2,500-word review of Property and Practical Reason, by Adam J. MacLeod, (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2015). The book makes a novel contribution to scholarship on property in English-speaking jurisdictions, because it shows how property is justified under principles of flourishing and perfectionism associated with Joseph Raz and John Finnis. In many lay and scholarly impressions, property consists of a sphere of absolute dominion. In a perfectionist approach, by contrast, property consists of a sphere of dominion when dominion seems likely to empower owners to exercise their faculties to flourish, but not when dominion seems likely to restrict non-owners’ opportunities to acquire resources for their own flourishing.
Property and Practical Reason makes many subtle insights about the scope and limits of property, and especially about the ways in which moral property rights get specified in common law reasoning. The review offers one significant criticism: Many basic property institutions are designed relying on broad assumptions that people’s preferences toward certain classes of resources are commensurable; the account of human flourishing on which the book relies may not be capable of specifying when such preferences should and shouldn’t be treated as commensurable.
JEL Classification: K1, K11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation