What is Property?


These days, public discussion of economic policy and related laws (e.g. bankruptcy) tacitly assumes that property is something predetermined by laws of God or Nnature.* But an apartment which can be rented, cannot be sold as a condominium until and unless a master deed is filed on the building. And in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts “the condominium” did not exist at all until The Great and General Court [the real name of the Legislature] added it as a “form of ownership.” Property is a creation of Man Person. [:)] Perhaps it’s no accident that Harvard’s Economics building is adjacent to the Law School.

Knowing how to resolve conflicts over “property rights” means knowing what property is. French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon posed his answer under the title, “What is Property?” There is a course at Harvard in the Government Department by the same name. Or you can find some views of Harvard’s Legal Left in their Journal Unbound.

*When I first published this, I had the unqualified deitistic ‘N’. My bad. I do be after all, an empiricist, experimentalist, a bit of a nominalist, and just may be a crit although as of this posting we Wikipedians got some ‘splaining to do. The homorphism with this is not obvious. I met a bunch of Foucauldians**. Am I? [Am I truculent?] “I don’t know what that is, but if that’s good, I’m that!”

** People who respect Michel Foucault, but not consonants.

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