Property and 'Human Flourishing': A Reassessment in the Housing Framework
27 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 28, 2019
In South Africa, land/housing is a finite non-shareable type of property that must yield to stringent constitutional control to meet land reform and housing objectives, which is high on our constitutional agenda to redress injustices of the past and allow the previously dispossessed to take their rightful place in society. This article considers the normative framework that underlies the types of property that must be regulated for the purposes of section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, since very few cases have been decided in such a way as to consider, from a normative perspective when land/housing should be subject to greater governmental control and when not. Even in the context of expropriation without compensation, certain types of land/buildings are being flagged for this purpose, but the normative reasons for such propositions remain unclear. The purpose of this article is to offer a theoretical perspective, based on work done by progressive-property scholars, on the normative foundation of some property rights, with the object of initiating a dialogue concerning whether or not such rights should be regulated. The notion of human flourishing, as developed by Alexander, should arguably be essential in determining whether land/housing rights should be subject to greater constitutional scrutiny; the more property contributes to the individual's autonomy and ability to partake in social relations, the more sceptical we should be of severe governmental interference; whereas the lesser the notion of human flourishing appears, the greater governmental interference should be. An approach of this kind adheres to the systemic purpose of section 25 of the Constitution, because the property clause is intended to regulate established rights just as much as it is intended to meet certain societal needs.
Keywords: human flourishing, property regulation, housing rights, land reform, progressive property theory
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