John Stuart Mill on the Ownership and Use of Land

My aim in this paper is to describe some of John Stuart Mill’s views about property rights in land and some implications he drew for public policy. While Mill defends private ownership of land, he emphasizes the ways in which ownership of land is an anomaly that does not fit neatly into the usual views about private ownership. While most of MiII’s discussion assumes the importance of maximizing the productivity of land, he anticipates contemporary environmentalists by also expressing concerns about excessive exploitation of land for productive use. I extrapolate from these remarks to suggest changes that Mill might have favored regarding ownership rights ina world in which people aimed to decrease productivity. And, I suggest, it is a virtue of utilitarianism that it so readily supports changes in important principles when circumstances change significantly
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DOI 10.5840/pcw200512215
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