On Original Appropriation

In Malcolm Murray (ed.), Liberty, Games, and Contracts: Jan Narveson and the Defence of Libertarianism. Aldershot: Ashgate Press (2007)
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Libertarianism holds that agents initially fully own themselves. Lockean libertarianism further holds that agents have the moral power to acquire private property in external things as long as a Lockean Proviso—requiring that “enough and as good” be left for others—is satisfied. Radical right-libertarianism, on the other hand, holds that satisfaction of a Lockean Proviso is not necessary for the appropriation of unowned things. This is sometimes defended on the ground that the initial status of external resources as unowned precludes any role for a Lockean Proviso. I shall show that this is a bad argument. Although I would argue that satisfaction of a Lockean Proviso is indeed a necessary condition for the appropriation of unowned things, I shall not attempt to establish that here. My goal here is more modest: to rebut one argument against the Lockean Proviso.



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Peter Vallentyne
University of Missouri, Columbia

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