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The Origins of Private Property

Enrico Colombatto () and Valerio Tavormina ()

IEL Working Papers from Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS

Abstract: This paper focuses on the legitimacy of private property and analyses the process of first appropriation. In particular, we examine and comment the different views on the origin of private property rights that have emerged through the history of economic and legal thinking, from Democritus to de Jasay. These views have been grouped in two broad categories: consequentialism and fundamental principles. Although consequentialism is now dominant among economists and inchoate in the legal profession, we observe that it is in fact an alibi for discretionary policymaking by the authority. By definition, fundamentalist approaches generate rules that limit discretion. However, we show that some fundamental views rest on questionable a-priori statements. De Jasay’s argument based on the presumption of liberty is perhaps the only perspective that escapes this criticism.

Keywords: Private property; Consequentialism; Natural rights; Appropriation; Intellectual property (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B15 B25 B52 K11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 23 pages
Date: 2017-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-law
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:uca:ucaiel:24

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