A Liberal Theory of Property (Ch 1 + Ch 9)
Cambridge University Press, 2020
21 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2021
Date Written: November 11, 2020
Property enhances autonomy for most people, but not for all. Because it both empowers and disables, property requires constant vigilance. “A Liberal Theory of Property” addresses key questions: how can property be justified? What core values should property law advance, and how do those values interrelate? How is a liberal state obligated to act when shaping property law?
In a liberal polity the primary commitment to individual autonomy dominates the justification of property, founding it on three pillars: carefully delineated private authority, structural (but not value) pluralism, and relational justice. A genuinely liberal property law meets the legitimacy challenge confronting property by expanding people’s opportunities for individual and collective self-determination while carefully restricting their options of interpersonal domination.
“A Liberal Theory of Property” shows how the three pillars of liberal property account for core features of existing property systems, provide a normative vocabulary for evaluating central doctrines, and offer directions for urgent reforms.
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