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Property: Mainstream and Critical Positions

edited, with an introductory and concluding essay, by C.B. MACPHERSON
John Locke
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jeremy Bentham
Karl Marx
John Stuart Mill
Thomas Hill Green
Thorstein Veblen
R.H. Tawney
Morris Cohen
Charles A. Reich
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 210
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Propertyis both a valuable text on a crucial topic in political and social theory and a significant contribution to the continuing debate

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2791-8
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 The Meaning of Property
    (pp. 1-14)

    The meaning of property is not constant. The actual institution, and the way people see it, and hence the meaning they give to the word, all change over time. We shall see that they are changing now. The changes are related to changes in the purposes which society or the dominant classes in society expect the institution of property to serve.

    When these expectations change, property becomes a controversial subject: there is not only argument about what the institution of property ought to be, there is also dispute about what it is. For when people have different expectations they are...

  5. 2 Of Property
    (pp. 15-28)

    25. Whether we consider naturalReason, which tells us, that Men, being once born, have a right to their Preservation, and consequently to Meat and Drink, and such other things, as Nature affords for their Subsistence: OrRevelation, which gives us an account of those Grants God made of the World toAdam, and toNoah, and his Sons, ’tis very clear, that God, as KingDavidsays,Psal. CXV. xvj.has given the Earth to the Children of Men, given it to Mankind in common. But this being supposed, it seems to some a very great difficulty, how any one...

  6. 3 The Origin of Inequality
    (pp. 29-38)

    The first person who, having fenced off a plot of ground, took it into his head to saythis is mineand found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared by someone who, uprooting the stakes or filling in the ditch, had shouted to his fellow-men: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are lost if you forget that the fruits belong to all and the earth to no one! But it is very likely that by then things...

  7. 4 Security and Equality of Property
    (pp. 39-58)

    In the distribution of rights and obligations, the legislator, as we have said, should have for his end the happiness of society. Investigating more distinctly in what that happiness consists, we shall find four subordinate ends:–





    The more perfect enjoyment is in all these respects, the greater is the sum of social happiness: and especially of that happiness which depends upon the laws.

    We may hence conclude that all the functions of law may be referred to these four heads: – To provide subsistence; to produce abundance; to favour equality; to maintain security.

    This division has...

  8. 5 Bourgeois Property and Capitalist Accumulation
    (pp. 59-74)

    The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of Communism.

    All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.

    The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favor of bourgeois property.

    The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modem bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonism, on the exploitation of the many by the...

  9. 6 Of Property
    (pp. 75-100)

    2. [Statement of the question concerning Property] Private property, as an institution, did not owe its origin to any of those considerations of utility, which plead for the maintenance of it when established. Enough is known of rude ages, both from history and from analogous states of society in our own time, to show, that tribunals (which always precede laws) were originally established, not to determine rights, but to repress violence and terminate quarrels. With this object chiefly in view, they naturally enough gave legal effect to first occupancy, by treating as the aggressor the person who first commenced violence, by...

  10. 7 The Right of the State in Regard to Property
    (pp. 101-118)

    211. We have now considered the ground of the right to free life, and what is the justification, if any, for the apparent disregard of that right, (a) in war, (b) in the infliction of punishment. We have also dealt with the question of the general office of the state in regard to the development of that capacity in individuals which is the foundation of the right, pointing out on the one hand the necessary limitation of its office in this respect, on the other hand the directions in which it may remove obstacles to that development. We have next to...

  11. 8 The Natural Right of Investment
    (pp. 119-132)

    The ‘natural’ right of property is grounded in the workmanship of the man who ‘hath mixed his labor with’ the materials out of which a valuable article has been created. By this right of ownership the owner is vested with power to dispose of his property by bargain and sale. He may sell for cash or for deferred payment, and he may also lend. In so lending, the use of the valuable article passes to the borrower (debtor) while the usufruct remains with the owner (creditor) in the way of a stated or customary payment for the use of the...

  12. 9 Property and Creative Work
    (pp. 133-152)
    R. H. TAWNEY

    The application of the principle that society should be organised upon the basis of functions, is not recondite, but simple and direct. It offers in the first place, a standard for discriminating between those types of private property which are legitimate and those which are not. During the last century and a half, political thought has oscillated between two conceptions of property, both of which, in their different ways, are extravagant. On the one hand, the practical foundation of social organization has been the doctrine that the particular forms of private property which exist at any moment are a thing...

  13. 10 Property and Sovereignty
    (pp. 153-176)

    Property and sovereignty, as every student knows, belong to entirely different branches of the law.¹ Sovereignty is a concept of political or public law and property belongs to civil or private law. This distinction between public and private law is a fixed feature of our law-school curriculum. It was expressed with characteristic eighteenth-century neatness and clarity by Montesquieu, when he said that by political laws we acquire liberty and by civil law property, and that we must not apply the principles of one of the other.² Montesquieu’s view that political laws must in no way retrench on private property, because...

  14. 11 The New Property
    (pp. 177-198)

    The institution called property guards the troubled boundary between individual man and the state. It is not the only guardian; many other institutions, laws, and practices serve as well. But in a society that chiefly values material well-being, the power to control a particular portion of that well-being is the very foundation of individuality.

    One of the most important developments in the United States during the past decade has been the emergence of government as a major source of wealth. Government is a gigantic syphon. It draws in revenue and power, and pours forth wealth: money, benefits, services, contracts, franchises,...

  15. 12 Liberal-Democracy and Property
    (pp. 199-207)

    Property has always been a central concern of political theory, and of none more so than liberal theory. And nothing has given more trouble in liberal-democratic theory than the liberal property right. I shall suggest that the trouble it has given, both to liberal-democrats and to most of their critics (at least those critics who want to retain the ethical values of liberalism), is due to all of them having stayed within a historically understandable but unnecessarily narrow concept of property. I shall argue that a change in the prevailing concept of property would help to get liberal theory out...