The Meaning of Property in Things

9 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2016 Last revised: 8 Jan 2018

See all articles by Bart J. Wilson

Bart J. Wilson

Chapman University - Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy; Chapman University - Economic Science Institute (ESI); Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Date Written: January 7, 2018

Abstract

What is property, and why does our species happen to have it? In this paper I explore how Homo sapiens acquires and cognizes the custom of property and why this might be relevant to understanding how property works in the 21st century. I first support the claim that property is a universal and uniquely human custom and then I argue that humans locate the meaning of property within a thing. Using philosophy of property law and actual property disputes, I also explain (a) how my theory generates a testable hypothesis, (b) how the bundle of sticks metaphor inverts how we cognize property, and (c) how social scientists, economists in particular, can no longer think about property as an external constraint imposed upon an individual.

Keywords: property, chattels, semantics, cognition of property

JEL Classification: K00, K11

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Bart J., The Meaning of Property in Things (January 7, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2867734 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2867734

Bart J. Wilson (Contact Author)

Chapman University - Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States
(714) 628-7306 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www1.chapman.edu/~bjwilson/

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute (ESI) ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States
(714) 628-7306 (Phone)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
(714) 628-7306 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www1.chapman.edu/~bjwilson/

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