A moral justification of property rights

(Reposted from a discussion thread in my Property class)

We have been introduced to four different theories of property rights in class (Hegel’s Personhood; Locke’s Labor; Civic Republican and Bentham’s Utilitarian). None of these, in my view, give any semblance of proper moral justification of why property rights should exist or be protected by law. Here are a few quotes (and links) to get you started on what I consider a proper moral view of property rights.

Property rights are… “the rights to gain, keep, use and dispose of material values

The right to life means the right to sustain and protect one’s life. It means the right to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the preservation of his life. To sustain life, man needs a method of survival  – he must use his rational faculty to gain knowledge and choose values, then act to achieve his values. The right to liberty is the right to this method; it is the right to think and choose, then to act in accordance with one’s judgement. To sustain his life, man needs to create the material means of his survival. The right to property is the right to this process. (emphasis added) 1

In other words, property rights have a very special significance in translation of all rights to reality:

The right to life is the source of all rights — and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. (emphasis added) 2

1. Peikoff, Leonard. Objectivism. Plume, 1993. 352. Print.

2. Ayn Rand, “Man’s Rights,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet, 1986), 322. Essay available online at http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=arc_ayn_rand_man_rights.