The Myth of Property

The Myth of Property : Toward an Egalitarian Theory of Ownership

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The Myth of Property is the first book-length study to focus directly on the variable and complex structure of ownership. It critically analyzes what it means to own something, and it takes familiar debates about distributive justice and recasts them into discussions of the structure of ownership. The traditional notion of private property assumed by both defenders and opponents of that system is criticized and exposed as a "myth." The book then puts forward a new theory of what it means to own something, one that will be important for any theory of distributive justice. This new approach more adequately reveals the disparate social and individual values that property ownership serves to promote. The study has importance for understanding the reform of capitalist and welfare state systems, as well as the institution of market economies in former socialist states, for the view developed here makes the traditional dichotomy between private ownership capitalism and public ownership socialism obsolete. This new approach to ownership also places egalitarian principles of distributive justice in a new light and challenges critics to clarify aspects of property ownership worth protecting against calls for greater equality. The book closes by showing how defenders of egalitarianism can make use of some of the ideas and values that traditionally made private property appear to be such a pervasive human institution.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 230 pages
  • 163.6 x 243.1 x 21.1mm | 522.53g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195085949
  • 9780195085945
  • 1,297,801

Review quote

Powerful and thought-provoking book ... Given that the book is superbly written and argued, with a very interesting and important thesis, it should be read by anyone with interests in political philosophy. * MIND * An interesting alternative approach to the analysis of property and ownership rights ... This book is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the theory of property rights and its relation to the economic policy process. * Journal of Economic Literature *show more

Back cover copy

The first book-length study to focus directly on the variable and complex structure of ownership, The Myth of Property critically analyzes what it means to own something, taking on familiar debates about distributive justice and recasting them into discussions of the structure of ownership.show more

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