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The Origins of Private Property

Author

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  • Colombatto, Enrico

    ()

  • Tavormina, Valerio

    ()

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Colombatto, Enrico & Tavormina, Valerio, 2017. "The Origins of Private Property," IEL Working Papers 24, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:uca:ucaiel:24
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    File URL: http://polis.unipmn.it/pubbl/RePEc/uca/ucaiel/iel024.pdf
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    Keywords

    Private property; Consequentialism; Natural rights; Appropriation; Intellectual property;

    JEL classification:

    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • B15 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary

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