Public Ownership of the External World and Private Ownership of Self
Liberal political philosophy defends great inequality of economic outcome on the basis that people own themselves and are entitled to establish private property in the external world by virtue of self-ownership. Contemporary nonlibertarian political philosophers, such as John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, achieve their relatively egalitarian conclusions by denying self-ownership as a premise. An alternative challenge to libertarianism, which does not take that radical step, is to declare that while self-ownership should be respected at least to a degree, productive assets in the external world be viewed as publicly owned. The authors propose an axiomatic approach to modeling public and private property rights, and characterize the class of allocation mechanisms, acting on a domain of economic environments, which satisfy these axioms. Copyright 1989 by University of Chicago Press.