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Property in a Humane Economy

  • Property in a Humane Economy by Samuel L. Blumenfeld
January 27, 1974

Tags Philosophy and MethodologyPrivate Property

This volume, dedicated as a memorial to Dr. F. A. "Baldy" Harper, consists of a number of papers delivered at several symposia sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies. The papers were selected principally on the basis of the directness with which they focus on basic issues relating to property rights.

What follows is an attempt to offer the reader a preview of the intellectual attractions in store for him in the papers themselves.

Dr. Harper's paper is devoted primarily to answering the question: Why is there so disappointing a neglect and disparagement of private property and ownership? In the course of answering this question, Dr. Harper touches on nearly all of the deep concerns of the other authors. A convenient way of providing the reader with the promised preview of the papers is to group their views, whether they amplify or contrast with Dr. Harper's, around the themes which Dr. Harper himself develops. These might be put as follows:

Property and Freedom—has the connection between the two been sufficiently analyzed?

The Alleged Injustice of Ownership—is property theft as socialists maintain?

The Economic Function of Private Property—can we solve the problem of scarcity by redistributing property?

Definitions of "Ownership" and "Property"—how are we to understand these terms?

The Origin of Property: The Legal View—is property the creation of the law?

The Origin of Property: The Theocratic View—what implications for our understanding of ownership and property follow from the view that God is creator, and so "owner" of everything?

The Origin of Property: The Self-Ownership View—is it conceptually and analytically helpful to see self-ownership as the prior and superior form of property?

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Open Court, La Salle, Illinois, 1974