From Independence and Interdependence to the Pluralism of Property
This chapter discusses two recent ambitious attempts to ascertain the core normative essence of property. Relying, respectively, on Kant and Aristotle, the former finds property as a castle of independence and the latter as the locus of interdependence. It is argued that both these theories fail and that their failures are mirror images of one another. Each theory ignores, and thus undermines, the value emphasized by its counterpart, and this omission backfires. By refusing to allow interdependence and responsibility to play any role in its conceptualization of property, the “property as independence” school may end up undermining its own cause by entrenching widespread dependence. Likewise, by resisting the legal entrenchment of liberal exit, and by insisting that reciprocity should not cap communities' demands concerning their members' contributions, the “property as interdependence” camp may dilute rather than bolster the value of community.
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