Opinion; The Independentarian

The History of the Appropriation Story

Street Art From Wales -OpenDemocracy
            I’m posting chapters of my latest book project (The Prehistory of Private Property coauthored by Grant. S. McCall)
            This discussion paper is a draft of Chapter 2 of our forthcoming book, the Prehistory of Private Property. It traces the history of the appropriation story in property theory from John Locke to the present day. It shows that, although the story is not supposed to be literally true, it is meant illustrate important empirical claims in the natural rights justification of private property. The natural-rights-based argument for ethical limits on government powers to tax, regulate, and redistribute property has to stand on the empirical claim that collective appropriation of property, though possible, is historically implausible—a claim or a collection of claims we call “the appropriation hypothesis.”
            This hypothesis could be specified in at least three different ways. First, before governments or any other collective institutions appear, all or most resources are appropriated by individuals acting as individuals to established private property rights. Second, only individuals acting as individuals perform appropriative acts (i.e. neither individuals acting as monarchs nor groups intending to establish collective, public, or government-held property rights perform appropriative acts). Third, even if collectives perform appropriative acts, subsequent transfers of titles (in the absence of rights violations) are likely only to produce privatized property rights.
           This chapter sets up the following questions, which will be addressed in the chapters 3, 4, & 5: Can the natural-rights justification of private property do without the appropriation hypothesis? And if not, are these claims true?
Street Art From Wales -OpenDemocracy

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 960 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website (works.bepress.com/widerquist/). More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.