Ryan Brikho’s Theory of Property

Property theory is a topic of immense prominence, for the topic of it arises in law, political doctrines, ethical systems, economics, and its manifestation in society. Everyday we recognize property rights are dismiss property rights. However, current property theories fail to form a descriptive definition of property or fail as a result of their logical incoherency.

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Locke’s Labor Theory of Property

One of the most well known property theories is the one of John Locke, where he describes coming to own to be the result of homesteading(or original appropriation), this is the idea of an object leaving the state of being in nature and entering the state of being owned. Homesteading occurs when an actor is the first to mix labor with some object. For example, if John were to pluck an apple from a tree, if this tree or apple were to not have been previously homesteaded, then John would come to be the owner of the apple. There comes an issue with this however, if there were to be some property X that is caused if and only if event A occurs then X is causally contingent only on the event A. Because ownership is caused if and only if the event of original appropriation/homesteading had happened it is therefore causally contingent on only original appropriation, and since original appropriation implies means some actor is the first to mix labor. As a consequence, anything that had been brought into the state of being owned can never leave, and even more-so it cannot be exchanged to another as once there is a first appropriator there can never be another first appropriator. Locke’s theory of property thus fails as it logically cannot explain exchange, and it is evident within society that property is exchanged by means of market transactions or gifting.

This will be contested as Locke introduced a proviso stating that a homesteader must leave “at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others”(Locke, Second Treatise of Government), however, this only restricts those who have not homesteaded already, for it cannot fix the logical issue of exchange as the right-to-an-object had already been caused and it’s first appropriator is already set in history. The proviso also holds normative notions of enough and good and these notions must be held to some end which would make them subjective and therefore not universally affirmative.

Descriptive Faults

Like many other fields within the social sciences, there are those who assume that social phenomena can be explained devoid from any normative judgement, but this is entirely not the case with property theory. The reasoning for how this thought is faulty is demonstrated in my previous article:

My Theory of Property

Because of the aforementioned logical incoherency and failure to be descriptive by theories of property, I’ve come to the realization that property is subjective, it is not tied to some event, but by the ends of an individual. I formulate ownership as follows:

“X has the right to some object Y according to Z end”

I had formulated in this manner in order to give an absolute definition of ownership, where the formulation would be consistent with “All S are P”(the universal affirmative). This is consistent as it leaves some variable “Z” that stands to be defined to be some end.

In order to more properly illustrate this explanation I had written out this polysyllogism.

P1.) Ownership claims imply that a certain entity has mediate possession

P2.) If a claim holds that a certain entity has mediate possession then it must be formulated as a “right-to-possess”

Defense of P2

Since mediate possession holds that if someone were to hold such an object they ought to give it back to the entity that holds mediate possession over that object, it must formulate as the aforementioned.

C1.) Ownership claims imply a “right-to-possess”(from P1 and P2)

P3.) Mediate possession implies that any immediate possessor ought to give the object to the mediate possessor if the mediate possessor wills it.

P4.) If any ought is implied then an end is necessary in the formulation

Defense of P4

Oughts determine correct action, there is no way to conceive of an ought without an end because if an action changes nothing at all how does one verify if it is correct?

C2.) An end is necessary in the formulation of ownership(from C1,P3,P4)

For us to properly understand property we must all realize that who has a right to what is dependent on our own aims, there is not a absolute list of universally verified exclusive owners that can be tied to some happening.




Voluntaryist, Humean, Moral Subjectivist, Austrian

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Ryan Brikho

Ryan Brikho

Voluntaryist, Humean, Moral Subjectivist, Austrian

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