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The Property SpeciesMine, Yours, and the Human Mind$
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Bart J. Wilson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190936785

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190936785.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 December 2021

Economics Is Founded Upon Property, Not Property Rights

Economics Is Founded Upon Property, Not Property Rights

(p.174) 9 Economics Is Founded Upon Property, Not Property Rights
The Property Species

Bart J. Wilson

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the implications for economics and its treatment of property rights, not property. The language of “property rights” contains a tacit assumption about how we think they work. Property, not property rights, is a fundamental principle of economics. Property rights are the expectations defined by property, not the content of property. In other words, property effects property rights. Such a view challenges the felicitousness of the bundle-of-sticks metaphor, which inverts how humans cognize property. We can no longer think about the rules of property as mere external constraints imposed upon an individual. The alternative theory this book presents situates the idea of property in a bidirectional relationship that extends to and from the minds of individuals and the moral scheduling pattern of their community. Property, not property rights, is the very foundation of economics.

Keywords:   property, property rights, bundle of sticks, legal realism, Armen Alchian, Harold Demsetz, symbolic reference

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