What counts as original appropriation?

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (4):355-373 (2009)
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I here defend historical entitlement theories of property rights against a popular charge. This is the objection that such theories fail because no convincing account of original appropriation exists. I argue that this argument assumes a certain reading of historical entitlement theory and I spell out an alternative reading against which it misfires. On this reading, the role of acts of original appropriation is not to justify but to individuate people’s holdings. I argue that we can identify which acts count as original appropriation against the background of a general justification for a practice of property rights. On this view, what I will call ‘natural’ acts of original appropriation are acts by which a person begins to satisfy the general conditions for justified ownership. Finally, I offer an interpretation of John Locke's theory of appropriation along these lines and argue that it provides an attractive reading of his view


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Bas Van Der Vossen
Chapman University

Citations of this work

Libertarianism.Peter Vallentyne - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Ambidextrous Lockeanism.Billy Christmas - 2020 - Economics and Philosophy 36 (2):193-215.
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No right to unilaterally claim your territory: on the consistency of Kantian statism.Jakob Huber - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (6):677-696.

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References found in this work

Superseding historic injustice.Jeremy Waldron - 1992 - Ethics 103 (1):4-28.
Natural property rights.Allan Gibbard - 1976 - Noûs 10 (1):77-86.
When is Original Appropriation Required?David Schmidtz - 1990 - The Monist 73 (4):504-518.

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