Intrinsic limitations of property rights

Journal of Business Ethics 14 (5):411 - 416 (1995)

Abstract
Many people take for granted an absolute conception of property rights. According to this conception, if I own a piece of property I have a moral right to do with it as I please, irrespective of the needs of others.This paper articulates an argument against this conception of property rights. First, it shows that there are many possible conceptions of property rights, and that there are significant differences among the models of ownership which have prevailed in different societies. Then, it argues that there are decisive grounds to refuse to grant that property owners have a moral right to exercise absolute control over their property, and that ownership implies not only rights but also duties and limits.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00872103
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