The New Essentialism in Property

65 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2018

See all articles by Katrina Wyman

Katrina Wyman

New York University School of Law

Date Written: June 2018


Is property a flexible bundle of rights or a stable legal category? Since the late 1990s, prominent scholars have rejected the conventional wisdom that the bundle metaphor defines property. These “new essentialists” have sought to reclaim property as a distinct legal category with a definable core. Their academic project is now highly salient because the American Law Institute is engaged in a project of restating property law, directed by a leading new essentialist. This article takes stock of the new essentialists’ efforts to offer a new understanding of property. It distills the core elements of the new essentialist definition of property. Most importantly, it argues that this definition is highly malleable and not as distinct from the bundle picture as the new essentialists and their critics suppose.

Suggested Citation

Wyman, Katrina, The New Essentialism in Property (June 2018). 9 The Journal of Legal Analysis, 183 (2017); NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-35. Available at SSRN:

Katrina Wyman (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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