What Does it Mean to Say that Property Exists by Convention?Dennis Klimchuk (University of Western Ontario)
University College 1105
1151 Richmond Street
In a recent paper, Liam Murphy said “it seems to me uncontroversial that property law does not reflect natural moral rights of ownership but is rather a conventional scheme.” I’m not sure that it is uncontroversial, but it does seem that if there is a controversy then everyone interested implicitly claims to know what it’s about. I’m not sure that’s true either: one can mean many things by the claim that private property exists by convention, and one can think different things follow from its being so, if it is. I aim to disentangle some of this, drawing both on some of the classic treatments of property in the natural law tradition from Grotius to Hume and some of the work in analytic metaphysics started by David Lewis’s Convention.
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