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Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, redefine,
rent Rent may refer to: Economics *Renting Renting, also known as hiring or letting, is an agreement where a payment is made for the temporary use of a good, service or owned by another. A is when the pays a flat rental amount and the pays ...
,
mortgage A mortgage loan or simply mortgage () is a loan In finance, a loan is the lending of money by one or more individuals, organizations, or other entities to other individuals, organizations etc. The recipient (i.e., the borrower) incurs a ...
,
pawn Pawn may refer to: Places * Pawn, Oregon, an historic forest community * Pawn River, Burma * Noatak Airport, International Civil Aviation Organization code PAWN Arts, entertainment, and media * Pawn (chess), the weakest and most numerous piece i ...
,
sell Sell can refer to: People * Brenda Sell (born 1955), American martial arts instructor and highest ranking non-Korean female practitioner of taekwondo * Brian Sell (born 1978), American retired long-distance runner * Edward Sell (priest) (1839–1 ...

sell
,
exchange Exchange may refer to: Physics *Gas exchange is the movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. Places United States * Exchange, Indiana, an unincorporated community * ...

exchange
, transfer,
give away
give away
or destroy it, or to exclude others from doing these things, as well as to perhaps abandon it; whereas regardless of the nature of the property, the owner thereof has the right to properly use it (as a
durable Durable Hunke & Jochheim GmbH & Co. KG is a German company selling stationery products. References Stationery {{Germany-company-stub ...
, mean or factor, or whatever), or at the very least exclusively keep it. In
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
and
political economy Political economy is the study of production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act of making products ( ...
, there are three broad forms of property:
private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the prope ...
,
public property Public property is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right ...
, and
collective property Collective ownership is the ownership of means of production The means of production is a concept that encompasses the social use and ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old Englis ...
(also called
cooperative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomous The federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation (russian: субъекты Российск ...
property). Property that jointly belongs to more than one party may be possessed or controlled thereby in very similar or very distinct ways, whether simply or complexly, whether equally or unequally. However, there is an expectation that each party's will (rather discretion) with regard to the property be clearly defined and unconditional, so as to distinguish ownership and easement from rent. The parties might expect their wills to be
unanimous Unanimity is Consensus, agreement by all people in a given situation. Groups may consider unanimous decisions as a sign of e.g. social, political or wikt:procedural, procedural agreement, solidarity, and unity. Unanimity may be assumed explicitly ...
, or alternately every given one of them, when no opportunity for or possibility of dispute with any other of them exists, may expect his, her, its or their own will to be sufficient and absolute. The Restatement (First) of Property defines property as anything, tangible or intangible whereby a legal relationship between persons and the state enforces a possessory interest or legal title in that thing. This mediating relationship between individual, property and state is called a property regime. In
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
and
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
, property is often defined as a relationship between two or more individuals and an object, in which at least one of these individuals holds a bundle of rights over the object. The distinction between "collective property" and "private property" is regarded as a confusion since different individuals often hold differing rights over a single object. Types of property include
real property In English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World la ...
(the combination of land and any improvements to or on the land),
personal property Personal property is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the ...
(physical possessions belonging to a person), private property (property owned by legal persons, business entities or individual natural persons), public property (state owned or publicly owned and available possessions) and
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
(exclusive rights over artistic creations, inventions, etc.), although the last is not always as widely recognized or enforced. An article of property may have physical and incorporeal parts. A
title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
, or a
right Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...

right
of
ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germ ...
, establishes the relation between the property and other persons, assuring the owner the right to dispose of the property as the owner sees fit. The unqualified term "property" is often used to refer specifically to real property.


Overview

Often property is defined by the code of the local
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate a ...
, and protected wholly or more usually partially by such entity, the owner being responsible for any remainder of protection. The standards of proof concerning proofs of ownerships are also addressed by the code of the local sovereignty, and such entity plays a role accordingly, typically somewhat managerial. Some philosophers assert that property
rights Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...
arise from
social convention A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom. In a social context, a convention may retain the character of an "unwritten law" of custom (for ex ...
, while others find justifications for them in
morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intention Intentions are mental states in which the agent commits themselves to a course of action. Having the plan to visit the zoo tomorrow is an example of an intention. The action plan is the '' ...

morality
or in
natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
. Various scholarly disciplines (such as
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
,
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
,
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
or
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
) may treat the concept more systematically, but definitions vary, most particularly when involving
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
s.
Positive law Positive laws ( la, links=no, ius positum) are human-made laws that oblige or specify an action. Positive law also describes the establishment of specific rights for an individual or group. Etymologically, the name derives from the verb ''to posit ...
defines such rights, and the
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
can adjudicate and enforce property rights. According to
Adam Smith Adam Smith ( 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist, philosopher as well as a moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...

Adam Smith
, the expectation of profit from "improving one's stock of capital" rests on private property rights.
Capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

Capitalism
has as a central assumption that property rights encourage their holders to develop the property, generate
wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), bank deposits, bond (finance), bonds, and participations in companies' sh ...

wealth
, and efficiently allocate
resources Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can broadly be classified upon their availability — they are classified into renewable A renewable resource, also know ...
based on the operation of markets. From this has evolved the modern conception of property as a right enforced by positive law, in the expectation that this will produce more wealth and better standards of living. However, Smith also expressed a very critical view on the effects of property laws on inequality: :: "Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality … Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all." (
Adam Smith Adam Smith ( 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist, philosopher as well as a moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...

Adam Smith
, ''
Wealth of Nations ''An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'', generally referred to by its shortened title ''The Wealth of Nations'', is the ''magnum opus 's ''The Creation of Adam ''The Creation of Adam'' () is a fresco Fresco (pl ...

Wealth of Nations
'') In his text ''The Common Law'', Oliver Wendell Holmes describes property as having two fundamental aspects. The first, possession, can be defined as control over a resource based on the practical inability of another to contradict the ends of the possessor. The second, title, is the expectation that others will recognize rights to control resource, even when it is not in possession. He elaborates the differences between these two concepts, and proposes a history of how they came to be attached to persons, as opposed to families or to entities such as the church. *
Classical liberalism Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a History of liberalism, branch of liberalism that advocates free market, civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on limited government, economic freedom, and political freedom. I ...
subscribes to the
labor theory of property The labor theory of property (also called the labor theory of appropriation, labor theory of ownership, labor theory of entitlement, or principle of first appropriation) is a theory of natural law that holds that property originally comes about by ...
. They hold that individuals each own their own life, it follows that one must own the products of that life, and that those products can be traded in free exchange with others. :: "Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself." (
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
, ''
Second Treatise on Civil Government ''Two Treatises of Government'' (or ''Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles, and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter Is an Essay Concerning The True Original, ...
'') :: "The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property." (
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
, ''Second Treatise on Civil Government'') :: "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." (
Frédéric Bastiat Claude-Frédéric Bastiat (; ; 30 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French economist, writer and a prominent member of the French Liberal SchoolThe French Liberal School, also called the Optimist School or the Orthodox School, is a 19th-cen ...
, '' The Law'') *
Conservatism Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of ae ...
subscribes to the concept that freedom and property are closely linked. That the more widespread the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a state or nation. Economic leveling of property, conservatives maintain, especially of the forced kind, is not economic progress. :: "Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all... Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built... The conservative acknowledges that the possession of property fixes certain duties upon the possessor; he accepts those moral and legal obligations cheerfully." (
Russell Kirk Russell Amos Kirk (October 19, 1918 – April 29, 1994) was an American political theorist {{unreferenced, date=June 2015 A political theorist is someone who engages in constructing or evaluating political theory, including political philosophy ...

Russell Kirk
, ''The Politics of Prudence'') *
Socialism Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
's fundamental principles center on a critique of this concept, stating (among other things) that the cost of defending property exceeds the returns from private property ownership, and that, even when property rights encourage their holders to develop their property or generate wealth, they do so only for their own benefit, which may not coincide with benefit to other people or to society at large. *
Libertarian socialism Libertarian socialism, also referred to as anarcho-socialism, anarchist socialism, free socialism, stateless socialism, socialist anarchism and socialist libertarianism,Carlson, Jennifer D. (2012). "Libertarianism". In Miller, Wilburn R., ed. '' ...
generally accepts property rights, but with a short abandonment period. In other words, a person must make (more-or-less) continuous use of the item or else lose ownership rights. This is usually referred to as "possession property" or "
usufruct Usufruct () is a limited real right (or ''in rem'' right) found in civil-law and mixed jurisdictions that unites the two property interests of ''usus'' and ''fructus'': * ''Usus'' (''use'') is the right to use or enjoy a thing possessed, direct ...
". Thus, in this usufruct system, absentee ownership is illegitimate and workers own the machines or other equipment that they work with. *
Communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

Communism
argues that only
common ownership Common ownership refers to holding the assets of an organization, enterprise Enterprise (or the archaic spelling Enterprize) may refer to: Business and economics Brands and enterprises * Enterprise GP Holdings Enterprise GP Holdings ...
of the
means of production The means of production is a concept that encompasses the social use and ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest record ...
will assure the minimization of unequal or unjust outcomes and the maximization of benefits, and that therefore humans should abolish private ownership of
capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case is the distinction between the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol ...
(as opposed to property). Both communism and some kinds of socialism have also upheld the notion that private ownership of capital is inherently illegitimate. This argument centers mainly on the idea that private ownership of capital always benefits one
class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analytical concept used differently ...
over another, giving rise to domination through the use of this privately owned capital. Communists do not oppose personal property that is "hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned" (as ''
The Communist Manifesto ''The Communist Manifesto'', originally the ''Manifesto of the Communist Party'' (german: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), is an 1848 pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) wa ...
'' puts it) by members of the
proletariat The proletariat (; ) is the social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the system or group of p ...

proletariat
. Both socialism and communism distinguish carefully between private ownership of capital (land, factories, resources, etc.) and private property (homes, material objects and so forth).


Types of property

Most
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
s distinguish between different types of property, especially between land (
immovable property In English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World la ...
,
estate in land An estate in land is an interest in real property In England, English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, impr ...
,
real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more genera ...

real estate
,
real property In English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World la ...
) and all other forms of property—goods and chattels,
movable property Personal property is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the ...
or
personal property Personal property is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the ...
, including the value of legal tender if not the legal tender itself, as the
manufacturer Manufacturing is the creation or Production (economics), production of goods with the help of equipment, Work (human activity), labor, machines, tools, and chemical or biological processing or formulation. It is the essence of secondary sector ...
rather than the possessor might be the owner. They often distinguish
tangible According to the philosopher Piyush Mathur (2017), "''Tangibility is the property that a phenomenon exhibits if it has and/or transports mass and/or energy and/or momentum". Mathur, Piyush (2017) ''Technological Forms and Ecological Communication ...
and
intangible property Intangible property, also known as incorporeal property, is something that a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic ...
. One categorization scheme specifies three species of property: land, improvements (immovable man-made things), and personal property (movable man-made things). In
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
,
real property In English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World la ...
(
immovable property In English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World la ...
) is the combination of interests in land and improvements thereto, and
personal property Personal property is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the ...
is interest in movable property. Real property rights are rights relating to the land. These rights include ownership and usage. Owners can grant rights to persons and entities in the form of
lease A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the user (referred to as the ''lessee'') to pay the owner (the Lessor (leasing), ''lessor'') for use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industrial o ...

lease
s,
license A license (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

license
s and
easement An easement is a Nonpossessory interest in land, nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another ...
s. Throughout the last centuries of the
second millennium File:2nd millennium montage.png, From left, clockwise: in 1492, Italians, Italian navigator Christopher Columbus arrives in North America; the American Revolution; the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople; the Atomic Bomb from World War II; an alter ...
, with the development of more complex theories of property, the concept of personal property had become divided into tangible property (such as
cars A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of ''cars'' say that they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four wheels, and mainly transport people rather than goods. Cars came ...

cars
and
clothing Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long ...

clothing
) and intangible property (such as
financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset In financial accounting Financial accounting is the field of accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial information abou ...
s and related rights, including
stock In finance, stock (also capital stock) consists of all of the shares In financial markets A financial market is a market in which people trade financial securities and derivatives at low transaction costs. Some of the securities i ...

stock
s and bonds;
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
, including
patent A patent is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depe ...

patent
s,
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
s and
trademark A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also r ...

trademark
s; digital files;
communication channel A communication channel refers either to a physical transmission medium A transmission medium is a system or substance that can mediate the propagation of signal In signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering ...
s; and certain forms of
identifier An identifier is a name that identifies (that is, labels the identity of) either a unique object or a unique ''class'' of objects, where the "object" or class may be an idea, physical countable In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) i ...
, including Internet domain names, some forms of
network address A network address is an identifier for a node In general, a node is a localized swelling (a "knot A knot is an intentional complication in Rope, cordage which may be practical or decorative, or both. Practical knots are classified by function ...
, some forms of
handle A handle is a part of, or attachment to, an object that allows it to be grasp A grasp is an act of taking, holding or seizing firmly with (or as if with) the hand A hand is a prehensile, multi- fingered appendage located at the end of t ...
and again trademarks). Treatment of intangible property is such that an article of property is, by law or otherwise by traditional conceptualization, subject to expiration even when
inheritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, the offspring cell (biology), cells or orga ...

inheritable
, which is a key distinction from tangible property. Upon expiration, the property, if of the intellectual category, becomes a part of
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, wr ...

public domain
, to be used by but not owned by anybody, and possibly used by more than one party simultaneously due to the inapplicability of
scarcity Scarcity as an economic concept "refers to the basic fact of life that there exists only a finite amount of human and nonhuman resources which the best technical knowledge is capable of using to produce only limited maximum amounts of each econo ...
to intellectual property. Whereas things such as communications channels and pairs of electromagnetic spectrum band and signal transmission power can only be used by a single party at a time, or a single party in a divisible context, if owned or used at all. Thus far or usually those are not considered property, or at least not private property, even though the party bearing right of exclusive use may transfer that right to another. In many societies the
human body The human body is the structure of a Human, human being. It is composed of many different types of Cell (biology), cells that together create Tissue (biology), tissues and subsequently organ systems. They ensure homeostasis and the life, viabi ...

human body
is considered property of some kind or other. The question of the ownership and rights to one's body arise in general in the discussion of
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
, including the specific issues of
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
,
conscription Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service Mili ...

conscription
, rights of children under the
age of majority The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as recognized or declared in law. It is the moment when minor (law), minors cease to be considered such and assume legal control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thus terminating the ...

age of majority
,
marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term ...

marriage
,
abortion Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism ...

abortion
,
prostitution Prostitution is the business or practice of engaging in sexual activity Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality Human sexualit ...
,
drugs A drug is any chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched ...

drugs
,
euthanasia Euthanasia (from el, εὐθανασία 'good death': εὖ, ''eu'' 'well, good' + θάνατος, ''thanatos'' 'death') is the practice of intentionally ending life to relieve pain and suffering. Different countries have different Legality ...

euthanasia
and
organ donation Organ donation is the process when a person allows an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exi ...

organ donation
.


Related concepts

Of the following, only sale and at-will sharing involve no
encumbrance An encumbrance is a third party's right to, interest in, or legal liability In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. ...
.


Violation


Miscellaneous action


Issues in property theory


What can be property?

The two major justifications given for original property, or the
homestead principle The homestead principle is the principle by which one gains ownership of an unowned natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs a ...
, are effort and scarcity.
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
emphasized effort, "mixing your labor" with an object, or clearing and cultivating virgin land.
Benjamin Tucker Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (; April 17, 1854 – June 22, 1939) was an American anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of h ...

Benjamin Tucker
preferred to look at the
telos Telos (; ) is a term used by philosopher Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (f ...
of property, i.e. What is the purpose of property? His answer: to solve the scarcity problem. Only when items are relatively scarce with respect to people's desires do they become property. For example, hunter-gatherers did not consider land to be property, since there was no shortage of land. Agrarian societies later made arable land property, as it was scarce. For something to be economically scarce it must necessarily have the ''exclusivity property''—that use by one person excludes others from using it. These two justifications lead to different conclusions on what can be property.
Intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
—incorporeal things like ideas, plans, orderings and arrangements (musical compositions, novels, computer programs)—are generally considered valid property to those who support an effort justification, but invalid to those who support a scarcity justification, since the things don't have the exclusivity property (however, those who support a scarcity justification may still support other "intellectual property" laws such as
Copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

Copyright
, as long as these are a subject of
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
instead of government arbitration). Thus even ardent propertarians may disagree about IP. By either standard, one's body is one's property. From some
anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. Anarchism calls for the abolition of the State (polity), state, which it holds to ...

anarchist
points of view, the validity of property depends on whether the "property right" requires enforcement by the state. Different forms of "property" require different amounts of enforcement:
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
requires a great deal of state intervention to enforce, ownership of distant physical property requires quite a lot, ownership of carried objects requires very little, while ownership of one's own body requires absolutely no state intervention. Some anarchists don't believe in property at all. Many things have existed that did not have an
owner Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germ ...

owner
, sometimes called the
commons The commons is the culture, cultural and nature, natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Commons c ...

commons
. The term "commons," however, is also often used to mean something quite different: "general collective ownership"—i.e.
common ownership Common ownership refers to holding the assets of an organization, enterprise Enterprise (or the archaic spelling Enterprize) may refer to: Business and economics Brands and enterprises * Enterprise GP Holdings Enterprise GP Holdings ...
. Also, the same term is sometimes used by statists to mean government-owned property that the general public is allowed to access (
public property Public property is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right ...
). Law in all societies has tended to develop towards reducing the number of things not having clear owners. Supporters of property rights argue that this enables better protection of scarce resources, due to the
tragedy of the commons In economic science, the tragedy of the commons is a situation in which individual users, who have open access to a resource unhampered by shared social structures or formal rules that govern access and use, act independently according to their s ...
, while critics argue that it leads to the 'exploitation' of those resources for personal gain and that it hinders taking advantage of potential
network effects In economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behavi ...
. These arguments have differing validity for different types of "property"—things that are not scarce are, for instance, not subject to the
tragedy of the commons In economic science, the tragedy of the commons is a situation in which individual users, who have open access to a resource unhampered by shared social structures or formal rules that govern access and use, act independently according to their s ...
. Some apparent critics advocate general collective ownership rather than ownerlessness. Things that do not have owners include:
idea In common usage and in philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosoph ...

idea
s (except for
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
),
seawater Seawater, or salt water, is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for al ...

seawater
(which is, however, protected by anti-pollution laws), parts of the
seafloor The seabed (also known as the seafloor, sea floor, ocean floor, and ocean bottom) is the bottom of the ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the ...

seafloor
(see the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in inter ...

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
for restrictions), gases in
Earth's atmosphere The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The mo ...

Earth's atmosphere
, animals in the wild (although in most nations, animals are tied to the land. In the United States and Canada wildlife are generally defined in statute as property of the state. This public ownership of wildlife is referred to as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and is based on The Public Trust Doctrine.), celestial bodies and outer space, and land in
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oc ...

Antarctica
. The nature of children under the
age of majority The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as recognized or declared in law. It is the moment when minor (law), minors cease to be considered such and assume legal control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thus terminating the ...

age of majority
is another contested issue here. In ancient societies children were generally considered the property of their parents. Children in most modern societies theoretically own their own bodies but are not considered competent to exercise their rights, and their parents or guardians are given most of the actual rights of control over them. Questions regarding the nature of ownership of the body also come up in the issue of
abortion Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism ...

abortion
,
drugs A drug is any chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched ...

drugs
and
euthanasia Euthanasia (from el, εὐθανασία 'good death': εὖ, ''eu'' 'well, good' + θάνατος, ''thanatos'' 'death') is the practice of intentionally ending life to relieve pain and suffering. Different countries have different Legality ...

euthanasia
. In many ancient legal systems (e.g. early
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
), religious sites (e.g.
temple A temple (from the Latin ) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. Religions which erect temples include Christianity (whose temples are typically called church (building), churches), Hinduism (w ...

temple
s) were considered property of the
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
or gods they were devoted to. However,
religious pluralism Religious pluralism is an attitude or policy regarding the diversity of religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus ov ...
makes it more convenient to have religious sites owned by the
religious body Religious activities generally need some infrastructure to be conducted. For this reason, there generally exist religion-supporting organizations, which are some form of organization that manage: * the upkeep of places of worship, such as ...
that runs them.
Intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
and air (
airspace Airspace is the portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are or ...

airspace
,
no-fly zone A no-fly zone, also known as a no-flight zone (NFZ), or air exclusion zone (AEZ), is a territory or area established by a military power over which certain aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support ...
, pollution laws, which can include tradable emissions rights) can be property in some senses of the word. Ownership of land can be held separately from the ownership of rights over that land, including sporting rights,
mineral rights Mineral rights are property rights to exploit an area for the minerals In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , ...
, development rights,
air rights Air rights are the property interest in the "space" above the earth's surface. Generally speaking, owning, or renting, land or a building A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one pla ...
, and such other rights as may be worth segregating from simple land ownership.


Who can be an owner?

Ownership laws may vary widely among countries depending on the nature of the property of interest (e.g. firearms, real property, personal property, animals). Persons can own property directly. In most societies
legal entities In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...
, such as
corporations A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal person, legal ...

corporations
, Trust law, trusts and nations (or governments) own property. In many countries women have limited access to property following restrictive inheritance and family laws, under which only men have actual or formal rights to own property. In the Inca empire, the dead emperors, who were considered gods, still controlled property after death.


Whether and to what extent the state may interfere with property

In 17th-century England, the legal directive that nobody may enter a home, which in the 17th-century would typically have been male owned, unless by the owners invitation or consent, was established as common law in Sir Edward Coke’s ''Institutes of the Lawes of England''. "For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]." It is the origin of the famous dictum, “an Englishman’s home is his castle”. The ruling enshrined into law what several English writers had espoused in the 16th-century. Unlike the rest of Europe the British had a proclivity towards owning their own homes. British Prime Minister William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham defined the meaning of castle in 1763, "The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter." A principle exported to the United States, under U.S. law the principal limitations on whether and the extent to which the State may interfere with property rights are set by the Constitution. The "Takings" clause requires that the government (whether state or federal—for the 14th Amendment's due process clause imposes the 5th Amendment's takings clause on state governments) may take private property only for a public purpose, after exercising due process of law, and upon making "just compensation." If an interest is not deemed a "property" right or the conduct is merely an intentional tort, these limitations do not apply and the doctrine of sovereign immunity precludes relief. Moreover, if the interference does not almost completely make the property valueless, the interference will not be deemed a taking but instead a mere regulation of use. On the other hand, some governmental regulations of property use have been deemed so severe that they have been considered "regulatory takings." Moreover, conduct sometimes deemed only a nuisance or other tort has been held a taking of property where the conduct was sufficiently persistent and severe.


Theories

There exist many theories of property. One is the relatively rare first possession theory of property, where ownership of something is seen as justified simply by someone seizing something before someone else does. Perhaps one of the most popular is the natural rights definition of property rights as advanced by
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
. Locke advanced the theory that God granted dominion over nature to man through Adam in the book of Genesis. Therefore, he theorized that when one mixes one's labor with nature, one gains a relationship with that part of nature with which the labor is mixed, subject to the limitation that there should be "enough, and as good, left in common for others." (see Lockean proviso) From the RERUM NOVARUM, Pope Leo XIII wrote "It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive of his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his very own." Anthropology studies the diverse systems of ownership, rights of use and transfer, and possession under the term "theories of property." Western legal theory is based, as mentioned, on the owner of property being a legal person. However, not all property systems are founded on this basis. In every culture studied ownership and possession are the subject of custom and regulation, and "law" where the term can meaningfully be applied. Many tribal cultures balance individual ownership with the laws of collective groups: tribes, families, associations and nations. For example, the 1839 Cherokee Constitution frames the issue in these terms: Communal property systems describe ownership as belonging to the entire social and political unit. Common ownership in a hypothetical communist society is distinguished from primitive forms of common property that have existed throughout history, such as Communalism and primitive communism, in that communist common ownership is the outcome of social and technological developments leading to the Post-scarcity, elimination of material scarcity in society. Corporate systems describe ownership as being attached to an identifiable group with an identifiable responsible individual. The Roman property law was based on such a corporate system. In a well-known paper that contributed to the creation of the field of law and economics in the late 1960s, the American scholar Harold Demsetz described how the concept of property rights makes social interactions easier: Different societies may have different theories of property for differing types of ownership. Pauline Peters argued that property systems are not isolable from the social fabric, and notions of property may not be stated as such, but instead may be framed in negative terms: for example the taboo system among Polynesian peoples.


Property in philosophy

In medieval and Renaissance Europe the term "property" essentially referred to land. After much rethinking, land has come to be regarded as only a special case of the property genus. This rethinking was inspired by at least three broad features of early modern Europe: the surge of commerce, the breakdown of efforts to prohibit interest (then called "usury"), and the development of centralized national monarchy, monarchies.


Ancient philosophy

Urukagina, the king of the Sumerian city-state Lagash, established the first laws that forbade compelling the sale of property. The Bible in Leviticus 19:11 and ibid. 19:13 states that the Israelites are not to steal. Aristotle, in ''Politics,'' advocates "private property." He argues that self-interest leads to neglect of the commons. "[T]hat which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual." In addition he says that when property is common, there are natural problems that arise due to differences in labor: "If they do not share equally enjoyments and toils, those who labor much and get little will necessarily complain of those who labor little and receive or consume much. But indeed there is always a difficulty in men living together and having all human relations in common, but especially in their having common property."
''Politics, 1261b34''
Cicero held that there is no private property under
natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
but only under human law. Seneca the Younger, Seneca viewed property as only becoming necessary when men become avaricious. St. Ambrose later adopted this view and St. Augustine even derided heretics for complaining the Emperor could not confiscate property they had labored for.


Medieval philosophy


Thomas Aquinas (13th century)

The canon law ''Decretum Gratiani'' maintained that mere human law creates property, repeating the phrases used by St. Augustine. St. Thomas Aquinas agreed with regard to the private consumption of property but modified patristic theory in finding that the private possession of property is necessary. Thomas Aquinas concludes that, given certain detailed provisions, * it is natural for man to possess external things * it is lawful for a man to possess a thing as his own * the essence of theft consists in taking another's thing secretly * theft and robbery are sins of different species, and robbery is a more grievous sin than theft * theft is a sin; it is also a mortal sin * it is, however, lawful to steal through stress of need: ''"in cases of need all things are common property."''


Modern philosophy


Thomas Hobbes (17th century)

The principal writings of Thomas Hobbes appeared between 1640 and 1651—during and immediately following First English Civil War, the war between forces loyal to King Charles I of England, Charles I and those loyal to Parliament. In his own words, Hobbes' reflection began with the idea of "giving to every man his own," a phrase he drew from the writings of Cicero. But he wondered: How can anybody call anything his own? He concluded: My own can only truly be mine if there is one unambiguously strongest power in the realm, and that power treats it as mine, protecting its status as such.


James Harrington (17th century)

A contemporary of Hobbes, James Harrington (author), James Harrington, reacted to the same tumult in a different way: he considered property natural but not inevitable. The author of ''Oceana (book), Oceana'', he may have been the first political theorist to postulate that political power is a consequence, not the cause, of the distribution of property. He said that the worst possible situation is one in which the commoners have half a nation's property, with crown and nobility holding the other half—a circumstance fraught with instability and violence. A much better situation (a stable republic) will exist once the commoners own most property, he suggested. In later years, the ranks of Harrington's admirers included American revolutionary and founder John Adams.


Robert Filmer (17th century)

Another member of the Hobbes/Harrington generation, Sir Robert Filmer, reached conclusions much like Hobbes', but through Biblical exegesis. Filmer said that the institution of kingship is analogous to that of fatherhood, that subjects are but children, whether obedient or unruly, and that property rights are akin to the household goods that a father may dole out among his children—his to take back and dispose of according to his pleasure.


John Locke (17th century)

In the following generation,
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
sought to answer Filmer, creating a rationale for a balanced constitution in which the monarch had a part to play, but not an overwhelming part. Since Filmer's views essentially require that the House of Stuart, Stuart family be uniquely descended from the patriarchs of the Bible, and since even in the late 17th century that was a difficult view to uphold, Locke attacked Filmer's views in his Two Treatises of Government#First Treatise, First Treatise on Government, freeing him to set out his own views in the
Second Treatise on Civil Government ''Two Treatises of Government'' (or ''Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles, and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter Is an Essay Concerning The True Original, ...
. Therein, Locke imagined a pre-social world, each of the unhappy residents of which are willing to create a social contract because otherwise "the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure," and therefore the "great and chief end, therefore, of men's uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property." They would, he allowed, create a monarchy, but its task would be to execute the will of an elected legislature. "To this end" (to achieve the previously specified goal), he wrote, "it is that men give up all their natural power to the society they enter into, and the community put the legislative power into such hands as they think fit, with this trust, that they shall be governed by declared laws, or else their peace, quiet, and property will still be at the same uncertainty as it was in the state of nature." Even when it keeps to proper legislative form, though, Locke held that there are limits to what a government established by such a contract might rightly do.
"It cannot be supposed that [the hypothetical contractors] they should intend, had they a power so to do, to give any one or more an absolute arbitrary power over their persons and estates, and put a force into the magistrate's hand to execute his unlimited will arbitrarily upon them; this were to put themselves into a worse condition than the state of nature, wherein they had a liberty to defend their right against the injuries of others, and were upon equal terms of force to maintain it, whether invaded by a single man or many in combination. Whereas by supposing they have given up themselves to the absolute arbitrary power and will of a legislator, they have disarmed themselves, and armed him to make a prey of them when he pleases..."
Note that both "persons ''and'' estates" are to be protected from the arbitrary power of any magistrate, inclusive of the "power and will of a legislator." In Lockean terms, depredations against an estate are just as plausible a justification for resistance and revolution as are those against persons. In neither case are subjects required to allow themselves to become prey. To explain the ownership of property Locke advanced a
labor theory of property The labor theory of property (also called the labor theory of appropriation, labor theory of ownership, labor theory of entitlement, or principle of first appropriation) is a theory of natural law that holds that property originally comes about by ...
.


David Hume (18th century)

In contrast to the figures discussed in this section thus far David Hume lived a relatively quiet life that had settled down to a relatively stable social and political structure. He lived the life of a solitary writer until 1763 when, at 52 years of age, he went off to Paris to work at the British embassy. In contrast, one might think, to his polemical works on religion and his empiricism-driven philosophical skepticism, skeptical epistemology, Hume's views on law and property were quite conservative. He did not believe in hypothetical contracts, or in the love of mankind in general, and sought to ground politics upon actual human beings as one knows them. "In general," he wrote, "it may be affirmed that there is no such passion in human mind, as the love of mankind, merely as such, independent of personal qualities, or services, or of relation to ourselves." Existing customs should not lightly be disregarded, because they have come to be what they are as a result of human nature. With this endorsement of custom comes an endorsement of existing governments, because he conceived of the two as complementary: "A regard for liberty, though a laudable passion, ought commonly to be subordinate to a reverence for established government." Therefore, Hume's view was that there are property rights because of and to the extent that the existing law, supported by social customs, secure them. He offered some practical home-spun advice on the general subject, though, as when he referred to avarice as "the spur of Private industry, industry," and expressed concern about excessive levels of taxation, which "destroy industry, by engendering despair."


Adam Smith

"The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable. The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper without injury to his neighbour, is a plain violation of this most sacred property. It is a manifest encroachment upon the just liberty both of the workman, and of those who might be disposed to employ him. As it hinders the one from working at what he thinks proper, so it hinders the others from employing whom they think proper. To judge whether he is fit to be employed, may surely be trusted to the discretion of the employers whose interest it so much concerns. The affected anxiety of the law-giver lest they should employ an improper person, is evidently as impertinent as it is oppressive." — (Source:
Adam Smith Adam Smith ( 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist, philosopher as well as a moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...

Adam Smith
, ''The Wealth of Nations'', 1776, Book I, Chapter X, Part II.) By the mid 19th century, the industrial revolution had transformed England and the United States, and had begun in France. The established conception of what constitutes property expanded beyond land to encompass scarce goods in general. In France, the revolution of the 1790s had led to large-scale confiscation of land formerly owned by church and king. The restoration of the monarchy led to claims by those dispossessed to have their former lands returned.


Karl Marx

Section VIII, "Primitive accumulation of capital, Primitive Accumulation" of Capital involves a critique of Liberal Theories of property rights. Marx notes that under Feudal Law, peasants were legally as entitled to their land as the aristocracy was to its manors. Marx cites several historical events in which large numbers of the peasantry were removed from their lands, which were then seized by the aristocracy. This seized land was then used for commercial ventures (sheep herding). Marx sees this "Primitive Accumulation" as integral to the creation of English Capitalism. This event created a large un-landed class which had to work for wages in order to survive. Marx asserts that Liberal theories of property are "idyllic" fairy tales that hide a violent historical process.


Charles Comte: legitimate origin of property

Charles Comte, in ''Traité de la propriété'' (1834), attempted to justify the legitimacy of private property in response to the Bourbon Restoration in France, Bourbon Restoration. According to David Hart, Comte had three main points: "firstly, that interference by the state over the centuries in property ownership has had dire consequences for justice as well as for economic productivity; secondly, that property is legitimate when it emerges in such a way as not to harm anyone; and thirdly, that historically some, but by no means all, property which has evolved has done so legitimately, with the implication that the present distribution of property is a complex mixture of legitimately and illegitimately held titles." Comte, as Proudhon later did, rejected Roman law, Roman legal tradition with its toleration of slavery. He posited a communal "national" property consisting of non-scarce goods, such as land in ancient hunter-gatherer societies. Since agriculture was so much more efficient than hunting and gathering, private property appropriated by someone for farming left remaining hunter-gatherers with more land per person, and hence did not harm them. Thus this type of land appropriation did not violate the Lockean proviso – there was "still enough, and as good left." Comte's analysis would be used by later theorists in response to the socialist critique on property.


Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: property is theft

In his 1840 treatise ''What is Property?'', Pierre Proudhon answers with "Property is theft!" In natural resources, he sees two types of property, ''de jure'' property (legal title) and ''de facto'' property (physical possession), and argues that the former is illegitimate. Proudhon's conclusion is that "property, to be just and possible, must necessarily have equality for its condition." His analysis of the product of labor upon natural resources as property (
usufruct Usufruct () is a limited real right (or ''in rem'' right) found in civil-law and mixed jurisdictions that unites the two property interests of ''usus'' and ''fructus'': * ''Usus'' (''use'') is the right to use or enjoy a thing possessed, direct ...
) is more nuanced. He asserts that land itself cannot be property, yet it should be held by individual possessors as stewards of mankind with the product of labor being the property of the producer. Proudhon reasoned that any wealth gained without labor was stolen from those who labored to create that wealth. Even a voluntary contract to surrender the product of labor to an employer was theft, according to Proudhon, since the controller of natural resources had no moral right to charge others for the use of that which he did not labor to create and therefore did not own. Proudhon's theory of property greatly influenced the budding socialist movement, inspiring anarchist theorists such as Mikhail Bakunin who modified Proudhon's ideas, as well as antagonizing theorists like Karl Marx.


Frédéric Bastiat: property is value

Frédéric Bastiat Claude-Frédéric Bastiat (; ; 30 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French economist, writer and a prominent member of the French Liberal SchoolThe French Liberal School, also called the Optimist School or the Orthodox School, is a 19th-cen ...
's main treatise on property can be found in chapter 8 of his book ''Economic Harmonies'' (1850). In a radical departure from traditional property theory, he defines property not as a physical object, but rather as a relationship between people with respect to an object. Thus, saying one owns a glass of water is merely verbal shorthand for ''I may justly gift or trade this water to another person''. In essence, what one owns is not the object but the value of the object. By "value," Bastiat apparently means ''market value''; he emphasizes that this is quite different from utility. ''"In our relations with one another, we are not owners of the utility of things, but of their value, and value is the appraisal made of reciprocal services."'' Bastiat theorized that, as a result of technological progress and the division of labor, the stock of communal wealth increases over time; that the hours of work an unskilled laborer expends to buy e.g. 100 liters of wheat decreases over time, thus amounting to "gratis" satisfaction. Thus, private property continually destroys itself, becoming transformed into communal wealth. The increasing proportion of communal wealth to private property results in a tendency toward equality of mankind. ''"Since the human race started from the point of greatest poverty, that is, from the point where there were the most obstacles to be overcome, it is clear that all that has been gained from one era to the next has been due to the spirit of property."'' This transformation of private property into the communal domain, Bastiat points out, does not imply that private property will ever totally disappear. This is because man, as he progresses, continually invents new and more sophisticated needs and desires.


Andrew J. Galambos: a precise definition of property

Andrew Joseph Galambos, Andrew J. Galambos (1924–1997) was an astrophysicist and philosopher who innovated a social structure that seeks to maximize human peace and freedom. Galambos’ concept of property was basic to his philosophy. He defined property as a man's life and all non-procreative derivatives of his life. (Because the English language is deficient in omitting the feminine form “man” when referring to humankind, it is implicit and obligatory that the feminine is included in the term “man”.) Galambos taught that property is essential to a non-coercive social structure. That is why he defined freedom as follows: “Freedom is the societal condition that exists when every individual has full (100%) control over his own property.” Galambos defines property as having the following elements: * Primordial property, which is an individual's life * Primary property, which includes ideas, thoughts, and actions * Secondary property, which includes all tangible and intangible possessions which are derivatives of the individual's primary property. Property includes all non-procreative derivatives of an individual's life; this means children are not the property of their parents. and "primary property" (a person's own ideas). Galambos emphasized repeatedly that true government exists to protect property and that the state attacks property. For example, the state requires payment for its services in the form of taxes whether or not people desire such services. Since an individual's money is his property, the confiscation of money in the form of taxes is an attack on property. Military conscription is likewise an attack on a person's primordial property.


Contemporary views

Contemporary political thinkers who believe that natural persons enjoy rights to own property and to enter into contracts espouse two views about John Locke. On the one hand, some admire Locke, such as William Harold Hutt, William H. Hutt (1956), who praised Locke for laying down the "quintessence of individualism". On the other hand, those such as Richard Pipes regard Locke's arguments as weak, and think that undue reliance thereon has weakened the cause of individualism in recent times. Pipes has written that Locke's work "marked a regression because it rested on the concept of Natural Law" rather than upon Harrington's sociological framework. Hernando de Soto Polar, Hernando de Soto has argued that an important characteristic of capitalist market economy is the functioning state protection of property rights in a formal property system which clearly records ownership and transactions. These property rights and the whole formal system of property make possible: * Greater independence for individuals from local community arrangements to protect their assets * Clear, provable, and protectable ownership * The standardization and integration of property rules and property information in a country as a whole * Increased trust arising from a greater certainty of punishment for cheating in economic transactions * More formal and complex written statements of ownership that permit the easier assumption of shared risk and ownership in companies, and insurance against risk * Greater availability of loans for new projects, since more things can serve as collateral for the loans * Easier access to and more reliable information regarding such things as credit history and the worth of assets * Increased fungibility, standardization and transferability of statements documenting the ownership of property, which paves the way for structures such as national markets for companies and the easy transportation of property through complex networks of individuals and other entities * Greater protection of biodiversity due to minimizing of shifting agriculture practices All of the above, according to de Soto, enhance economic growth. Academics have criticised the capitalist frame through which property is viewed pointing to the fact that commodifying property or land by assigning it monetary value takes away from the traditional cultural heritage, particularly from first nation inhabitants. These academics point to the personal nature of property and its link to identity being irreconcilable with wealth creation that contemporary Western society subscribes to.Kristen A. Carpenter, Sonia Katyal, and Angela Riley, ‘In Defense of Property’ [2009] 118 Yale L J 101, 101–117, 124–138


See also

* Allemansrätten * Anarchism * Binary economics * Buying agent *
Capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

Capitalism
*
Communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

Communism
* Homestead principle * Immovable Property * Inclusive Democracy * International Property Rights Index * Labor theory of property * Libertarianism * Lien * Off plan * Ownership society * Family patrimony, Patrimony * Personal property * Propertarian * Property is theft * Property law * Property rights (economics) *
Socialism Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
* Sovereignty * Taxation as theft * Interpersonal relationship * Public liability Property-giving (legal) * Charity (virtue), Charity * Essenes * Gift * Kibbutz * Monasticism * Tithe, Zakat (modern sense) Property-taking (legal) * Adverse possession * Confiscation * Eminent domain * Fine of lands, Fine * Jizya * Nationalization * Regulation, Regulatory fees and costs * Search and seizure * Tariff * Tax * Turf and twig (historical) * Tithe, Zakat (historical sense) * Revised statute 2477, RS 2477 Property-taking (illegal) * Theft


References


Bibliography

* Frédéric Bastiat, Bastiat, Frédéric, 1850. ''Economic Harmonies.'' W. Hayden Boyers. * Bastiat, Frédéric, 1850
"The Law"
tr. Dean Russell. * Tom Bethell, Bethell, Tom, 1998. ''The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages''. New York: St. Martin's Press. * William Blackstone, Blackstone, William, 1765–69.
Commentaries on the Laws of England
', 4 vols. Oxford Univ. Press. Especially Books the Second and Third. * Hernando de Soto Polar, De Soto, Hernando, 1989. ''The Other Path''. Harper & Row. * De Soto, Hernando, and Francis Cheneval, 2006.
Realizing Property Rights
'. Ruffer & Rub. * Ellickson, Robert, 1993. " ", ''Yale Law Journal'' 102: 1315–1400. * Mckay, John P., 2004, "A History of World Societies". Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company * Palda, Filip (2011) ''Pareto's Republic and the New Science of Peace'' 201

chapters online. Published by Cooper-Wolfling. * Richard Pipes, Pipes, Richard, 1999. ''Property and Freedom''. New York: Knopf Doubleday.


External links

*
Concepts of Property
Hugh Breakey, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Tibor Machan, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy *
"Property and Ownership"
Jeremy Waldron, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). {{authority control Property, Economic anthropology Social inequality Environmental social science concepts