The Human Flourishing Theory

18 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2020

Date Written: February 11, 2020


The justification for private property is, of course, and has long been a contested topic. Historically, there have been several rival accounts of the moral foundation of property, including Locke’s labor theory and Hegel’s personality theory. Today, two are especially prominent, the libertarian, including rights-based, and utilitarian, including law-and-economics, theories. Both of these theories have long historical pedigrees, and in their modern incarnations each has generated several variations.

Over the past decade or so, I, both individually and with Eduardo Peñalver, have developed an alternative to these two dominant accounts of property, which I have called the human flourishing theory. The human flourishing theory of property provides the best account of the value constitution that underpins the structure of modern property law. It is also the most morally attractive account of property, both as a concept and as an institution. It draws inspiration from Aristotle, but significant differences exist between the human flourishing theory that I shall describe here and Aristotle’s account of human flourishing in the Nicomachean Ethics.

Keywords: Human Flourishing Theory, the right to exclude, economics, property, private law, public law

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Gregory S., The Human Flourishing Theory (February 11, 2020). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 20-02 , Available at SSRN: or

Gregory S. Alexander (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-3504 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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