Property Rights

The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted, by Thomas Hodgskin (1832; Clifton, N.J.: Augustus M. Kelley Publishers, 1973). An important statement of the origins and extent of the right to property by a radical individualist. Includes his famous attack on feudal property and his defense of justly acquired property and the free market.

The Economics of Property Rights, ed. by Eirik G. Furubotn and Svetozar Pejovich (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1974). A very important collection of essays, including Demsetz's seminal essay, "Toward a Theory of Property Rights."

The Myth of Social Cost, by Steven N.S. Cheung (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1978). A rigorous critique of traditional welfare economics and a realistic statement of market solutions to alleged defects.

"Life, Liberty, and Property," by David Kelley in Ellen Frankel Paul, Jeffrey Paul, and Fred D. Miller, Jr., eds., Human Rights (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1984). A strong statement of the philosophical case for property rights.

"Natural Property Rights as Body Rights," by Samuel C. Wheeler, III, in Nous 14 (1980). Wheeler offers a theory of rights to tangible property based on our rights of self-ownership.

Second Treatise of Government (or An Essay Concerning Civil Government), by John Locke (1690; student edition, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988). A powerful argument for the right to property, based on our property in ourselves.

Takings: Private Property and the Right of Eminent Domain, by Richard Epstein (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985). A careful rights-oriented interpretation of the "takings clause" of the U.S. Constitution. A substantial work in political philosophy.

The Economics of Rights, Cooperation, and Welfare, by Robert Sugden (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986). This extremely important book updates and extends David Hume's arguments on property. Sugden uses game theory (at an accessible level) to show how property rights and conventions (laws) can emerge spontaneously, without a central coordinating agency.

Natural Law and the Theory of Property: Grotius to Hume, by Stephen Buckle (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). An outstanding introduction to the modern natural law jurisprudence of property rights. This book is extremely important for understanding the foundations of modern civil society.

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