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Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual$
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Rowan Cruft

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793366

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793366.001.0001

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Property Rights for the Common Good

Property Rights for the Common Good

(p.231) 13 Property Rights for the Common Good
Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual

Rowan Cruft

Oxford University Press

Where Chapter 12 established that property belonging to those with reasonable wealth cannot be ‘natural’ rights grounded for the right-holder’s sake, Chapter 13 argues that such property is, rather, groundable on the common good, as outlined by classical liberals like Hayek, Hume, and Smith. Surprisingly, this approach gives us reason to stop seeing most property as an individual right, but rather as duties-owed-to-the-community, duties that individuals control. This is because property—unlike many other rights that are not ‘for the right-holder’s sake’—does not wear on its face its ground in the common good. Owners’ rights are not like those of a teacher, say: rights clearly protecting an other-serving role. Conceiving property as a right therefore carries a major risk that it will be seen as ‘natural’, grounded by the right-holder’s own good. To avoid this, the chapter argues that we should start conceiving free markets as involving ‘controllership’, in which duties-not-to-trespass are owed to the community rather than to particular owners.

Keywords:   property rights, common good, collective good, classical liberal case for property, Friedrich von Hayek, David Hume, Adam Smith, ownership, controllership

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