Two Theories of Property Contrasted

HVJC’s eviction defense work and policy advocacy around tenant protections often raises big picture questions about property rights. Questions like: How do owners’ rights relate to tenants’ rights? What obligations do owners have to others? Where do property rights come from, ultimately?

In a recent academic journal, our very own Executive Director Jason Mays reviews some historical attempts to answer these questions and outlines the differences between natural and “artificial” theories of property rights.

Here is an excerpt from that journal:

This article contrasts natural and ‘artificial’ theories of property rights. From the natural rights perspective, property rights are prior to, more fundamental than, or of higher authority than mere social conventions. From the ‘artificial’ perspective, property rights are nothing but social conventions. These alternative perspectives evaluate government intervention into the economy, such as regulation and taxation, with starkly different standards. From the natural rights perspective, regulation and taxation are social-political impositions on natural endowments. In this view, these impositions are presumptively suspect. From the artificial perspective, regulation and taxation are social-political limitations and conditions on inherently social-political endowments. In this view, these limitations are simply part of the fabric of social conventions that produce property rights. This article examines some historical discussions of each view and explores potential policy consequences for the two perspectives.

The full article can be found in the LOYOLA JOURNAL OF PUBLIC INTEREST LAW, which can be downloaded below:

Loyola New Orleans College of Law Journal Of Public Interest Law Vol. 25.1-1 (002)

For more information on your rights as a tenant, please visit our Eviction & Housing Defense for Immigrants page for downloadable resources.