Social Philosophy and Policy 11 (2):209-240 (1994)

Gerald Gaus
University of Arizona
William Perm summarized the Magna Carta thus: “First, It asserts Englishmen to be free; that's Liberty. Secondly, they that have free-holds, that's Property.” Since at least the seventeenth century, liberals have not only understood liberty and property to be fundamental, but to be somehow intimately related or interwoven. Here, however, consensus ends; liberals present an array of competing accounts of the relation between liberty and property. Many, for instance, defend an essentially instrumental view, typically seeing private property as justified because it is necessary to maintain or protect other, more basic, liberty rights. Important to our constitutional tradition has been the idea that “[t]he right to property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty.” Along similar lines, it has been argued that only an economic system based on private property disperses power and resources, ensuring that private people in civil society have the resources to oppose the state and give effect to basic liberties. Alternatively, it is sometimes claimed that only those with property develop the independent characters that are necessary to preserve a regime of liberty. But not only have liberals insisted that, property is a means of preserving liberty, they have often conceived of it as an embodiment of liberty, or as a type of liberty, or indeed as identical to liberty. This latter view is popular among contemporary libertarians or classical liberals. Jan Narveson, for instance, bluntly asserts that “Liberty is Property,” while John Gray insists that “[t]he connection between property and the basic liberties is constitutive and not just instrumental.”
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DOI 10.1017/S0265052500004490
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References found in this work BETA

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Citations of this work BETA

Liberalism.Gerald Gaus - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Property Rights of Personal Data and the Financing of Pensions.Francis Cheneval - 2018 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-23.
Euvoluntary or Not, Exchange is Just*: Michael C. Munger.Michael C. Munger - 2011 - Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (2):192-211.
Property Rights of Personal Data and the Financing of Pensions.Francis Cheneval - 2021 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 24 (2):253-275.

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