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Property and Community$
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Gregory S. Alexander and Eduardo M. Peñalver

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391572

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391572.001.0001

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How property norms construct the externalities of ownership

How property norms construct the externalities of ownership

Chapter:
(p.57) 3 HOW PROPERTY NORMS CONSTRUCT THE EXTERNALITIES OF OWNERSHIP
Source:
Property and Community
Author(s):

JOSEPH WILLIAM SINGER

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391572.003.003

The relation between property and sovereignty is contested. The protection of both persons and property are two core government functions. These functions come into conflict when the exercise of a property right harms others. How do we determine when that exercise is legitimately viewed as a self-regarding act that does not affect others, and when such an exercise does harm others and thus comes within the legitimate sphere of government regulation? Property norms help answer this question by orienting us in a moral universe through background understandings that define legitimate interests. Norms orient us, first, by telling us who is an owner with regard to any particular entitlement in a resource, and second, by telling owners when they are obligated to take into account the effects of their actions on others. In so doing, property norms define which externalities we must pay attention to and seek (if possible) to prevent.

Keywords:   property, externalities, norms, nuisance, trespass

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