Prolegomena to a Metaphysics of Real Estate

In Roberto Casati (ed.), Shadows and Socio-Economic Units. Foundations of Formal Geography. Technical University of Vienna. pp. 151--155 (1996)
Authors
Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo
Abstract
As an object in which property rights can be invested, land is a peculiar hybrid structure that comprehends both spatial and non-spatial aspects. Even in its purely spatial aspect land is treated differently from culture to culture, thus for example in the degree to which property rights in land are held to relate to vague or precisely delineated parcels and to portions of space above and below the surface of the earth. When we examine the non-spatial aspects of landed property, however, the dimensions of variability across cultures are multiplied tremendously. The goal is to provide a general framework for comparison of different socio-legal ontologies of land. The relevance of this project turns on the fact that without land (or real estate) it is difficult (perhaps impossible) to obtain credit; without credit it is difficult for nations to develop. Thus, if land is treated in a radically different way from one nation to another, this will surely exert an effect upon the development of nations.
Keywords real estate  social objects  property rights
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