Advanced Topics in Liberty

Property Rights and Freedom

Conference for Students - November 18-20, 2011

The purpose of this conference is to explore the relationship between liberty and property rights from both historical and theoretical perspectives. What are the different philosophical foundations for a positive relationship between liberty and property? Are the best defenses for property primarily empirical or conceptual? The goal of this colloquium is to investigate the philosophical roots and economic significance of property rights and how such rights relate to liberty.

The conference will initially focus on the historical emergence of property rights, and will also examine philosophical considerations of property rights. Participants will explore economic justifications for property rights, as well as the legal frameworks within which property rights are best protected.

Discussion Leader: Mark LeBar, Professor of Philosophy, Ohio University

Session I - The Origins of Property Rights

Pipes, Richard. Property and Freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. Chapter 1, “The Idea of Property” (pages 3–63).

Session II - Philosophical Bases for Property Rights

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Chapter 5, “Of Property” (pages 285–302).

Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State and Utopia. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1974. Chapter 7, “Distributive Justice” (pages 149–182).

Schmidtz, David. The Limits of Government –– An Essay on the Public Goods Argument. Boulder: Westview Press, 1991. Chapter 2, “Property” (pages 15–32).

Session III - Markets and Property Rights

Demsetz, Harold. “Toward a Theory of Property Rights.” American Economic Review 57, no. 2 (1967): 347–359.

North, Douglass C. and Robert Paul Thomas. The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973, 1999, 2006. Chapter 1, “The Issue” (pages 1–8), Chapter 2, “An Overview” (pages 9–18), and Chapter 3, “Property Rights in Land and Man” (pages 19–24).

Session IV - Property Rights and the Rule of Law

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Part 2: The Text: Book 3, Part 2, Section 2, “Of the origin of justice and property” (pages 311–322), Section 3, “Of the rules, which determine property” (pages 322–330), and Section 4, “Of the transference of property by consent” (pages 330–331).

Epstein, Richard A. “Property Rights and the Rule of Law: Classical Liberalism Confronts the Modern Administrative State.” Mont Pelerin Society Meeting, Sweden, August 17, 2009. Entire paper (38 pages).

Session V - Property Rights: Cultural Contexts

Bethell, Tom. The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999. Chapter 3, “Plato’s Conceit: Property at Jamestown and Plymouth” (pages 33–43) and Chapter 21, “China, Property, and Democracy” (pages 327–341).

North, Douglass C., John Joseph Wallis and Barry R. Weingast. Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Selections from Chapter 5, “The Transition from Limited to Open Access Orders: The Doorstep Conditions” (pages 148–154).

Session VI - Critiques of Property Rights

Cohen, G.A. Self-ownership, Freedom, and Equality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Chapter 3, “Self-Ownership, World-Ownership and Equality” (pages 67–91).

Murphy, Liam and Thomas Nagel. The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Chapter 1, “Introduction” (pages 3–11) and selection from Chapter 2, Part VII, “The Problem of Everyday Libertarianism” (pages 31–37).