Historical Entitlement: Some Difficulties

Jeremy Waldron

in The Right to Private Property

Published in print November 1990 | ISBN: 9780198239376
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679902 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Historical Entitlement: Some Difficulties

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This chapter turns from the evaluation of a particular SR-based theory to some discussion of the very idea of justifying private property in this sort of way. Locke attempts to convince us that a man's interest in the exclusive control of a resource acquires a special moral importance as a result of his having laboured on it. This argument is far from convincing. The idea of mixing one's labour seemed incoherent and that incoherence vitiated the strategy of somehow transferring the force of a man's entitlement to his own person onto the objects of his labour. None of the other ideas commonly associated with the Labour Theory of acquisition — desert, creator's rights, and psychological identification — seemed sufficiently substantial to justify the claim that rights of private property could be acquired in this way. They fail to establish that the individuals in question have a right to the exclusive control of the resources they have been working on. The chapter explores some more general difficulties with this sort of argument. They have to do not with the details of any particular SR-based defence of private property, but with the overall structure of the SR-based approach.

Keywords: private property; special rights; Labour Theory; resources; entitlement

Chapter.  13661 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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