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Property and Justice$
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J. W. Harris

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251407

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199251407.001.0001

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Ownership as an Organizing Idea

Ownership as an Organizing Idea

(p.63) 5 Ownership as an Organizing Idea
Property and Justice


Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how ownership fits into the working of property institutions. Lawyers share the background assumptions about ownership interests which are prevalent in their societies and they build upon them when they construct other features of property institutions. The chapter demonstrates that trespassory rules evolve or are enacted in parallel with these assumptions, so that conceptions of ownership interests are not reducible to the trespassory rules which protect them. Juristic construction makes bricks out of the straw of shared ownership assumptions. This process is examined in the special common law contexts of estates in land the division between law and equity, since learning in these fields has produced much of the fuel for ownership-scepticism. The plurality and mobility of ownership interests are emphasized, and the sense in which ownership conceptions may be ‘contested’ is examined.

Keywords:   ownership, property institutions, trespassory rules, law

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