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‘A Kantian Justification of Possession’.

In M. Timmons (ed.), Kant’s Metaphysics of Ethics: Interpretive Essays. Oxford (2002)
Abstract
Kant’s justification of possession appears to assume rather than prove its legitimacy. This apparent question-begging has been recapitulated or exacerbated but not resolved in the literature. However, Kant provides a sound justification of limited rights to possess and use things (qualified choses in possession), not of private property rights. Kant’s argument is not purely a priori; it is in Kant’s Critical sense ‘metaphysical’ because it applies the pure a priori ‘Universal Principles of Right’ to the concept of finite rational human agency. This use implicitly involves a ‘Contradiction in Conception’ test, which I explicate in detail. The limited rights to possession and use justified by Kant’s argument suffice for his social contract argument for the legitimacy of the state.
Keywords usufruct  use rights  property  Critical metaphysics
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