The Right to Own the Means of Production
Economic Liberties as Human Rights. Jahel Queralt and Bas Van Der Vossen (eds.). Routledge Press. 2019
24 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2019
Date Written: November 8, 2018
All liberals agree that certain civil and political liberties such as freedom of speech and assembly are “basic liberties”—that is, liberties whose protection takes priority over other political goals. However, liberals disagree about the status of “productive private property,” i.e. property used for economic production. Some liberals argue that the right to privately own the means of productive property ought to be considered a basic human right, yet most liberals remain unconvinced. This paper offers a new defense of the human right to own productive private property. We argue that the right is implied by two other rights that all liberals recognize as basic human rights—the right to dispose of personal property and the right of occupational choice. On our account, the right to productive private property is simply one specification of the rights to personal property and occupational choice in roughly the same way that the right to work as a motivational speaker is one specification of the rights to freedom of speech and occupational choice. We consider the major objections lodged against previous defenses of the basic right to own productive private property and conclude that they are unsuccessful against our own case.
Keywords: Human Rights, Economic Rights, Basic Liberties, Productive Property, Private Property, Rights
JEL Classification: P14, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation