Sunday, March 6, 2011

David Sobel on Property Rights

A good post covering libertarian understandings of property rights, the role that risk plays in property rights, etc. He cites a pollution example which I think meshes nicely to the way I talk about externalities and property rights, and the fact that a lot of people talk about property rights in a way that is self referencing. I can't make a defense of climate change legislation or public investments on the basis of property rights if you don't acknowledge property rights associated with the climate we live in, the air we breath, or the property rights of future generations. It is the very incompleteness of property rights and their self-referentialism that introduces these problems.

1 comment:

  1. FWIW, I picked up the same post and added some of my previous correspondence on these exact issues here.

    My conclusions (bound to be controversial!):
    Making compromises is part of life. Taking the dogmatic/deontological libertarian position to its ultimate conclusion often leads - I believe - to untenable outcomes. The case of global warming is a prime example. Libertarians that slavishly hold personal property rights above all else would inadvertently open the way for eco-fundamentalists to enjoin virtually all industrial activity. In doing so, they would threaten to form an unholy coalition that makes it impossible for society to react to an immensely complex problem in any sensible way. They would, in effect, become the Baptists and Bootleggers of the new century.


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