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Bundle-of-Sticks Notions in Legal and Economic Scholarship

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  • Eric R. Claeys
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    Abstract

    The phrase "bundle of rights" does not serve as an accurate conceptual definition of property. Nor has that phrase provided a helpful metaphor as used in Ronald Coase's article "The Problem of Social Cost" (1960) and subsequent legal and economic scholarship. Coase's usage portrays property rights as a collection of individualized permissions to use an asset, when in sound conceptual usage "property" signifies a domain of authority to decide how to use the asset. The "bundle" metaphor may be understood to state that an owner has a right to deploy his property in any specific manner fairly implied by his general rights of ownership. Although this metaphorical usage is helpful, it remains parasitic on a sound conceptual definition of property. Property is best conceived of as a right securing a normative interest in determining exclusively the use of an asset external to the person of the owner.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Econ Journal Watch in its journal Econ Journal Watch.

    Volume (Year): 8 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 205-214

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    Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:8:y:2011:i:3:p:205-214

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    Keywords: Property; bundle of rights; exclusion; exclusivity; right to exclude; legal realism; law and economics; Wesley Hohfeld; Richard Posner; Harold Demsetz; Armen Alchian; Thomas Merrill; Henry Smith; private law theory; conceptual philosophy;

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    1. Jain, Satish (ed.), 2010. "Law and Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198067733.
    2. Daniel B. Klein & John Robinson, 2011. "Property: A Bundle of Rights? Prologue to the Property Symposium," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 8(3), pages 193-204, September.
    3. Adam Mossoff, 2011. "The False Promise of the Right to Exclude," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 8(3), pages 255-264, September.
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