Auburn University Philosophical Society: Katharina Nieswandt (Concordia)

Event Information

Thursday, November 8, 2018
4:00 PM
Mell Classroom Building | 2550
Free and open to the public.

"Beyond Frontier Town: Private Property and Justice in Complex Economies"

Katharina Nieswandt (Concordia), 4pm, November 8th.

The theories of Locke, Hume and Kant dominate contemporary philosophical discourse on property rights. This is particularly true of applied ethics, where these theories are used to settle issues from biotech patents to managerial obligations. I argue that this development is unfortunate because within these theories,the usual criticisms of private property aren't even as much as intelligible. Locke, Hume and Kant, I attempt to show, develop claims about property considering people in a state of nature (a sort of frontier town) and then apply these claims to a complex economy. This inference, I argue, has two problems: first, the two economies differ in important respects, so that very different claims about desert, fairness and social consequences will be plausible; second, we'll be considering the wrong kind of property. In Frontier Town, there only is self-sustenance property. Critics, however, object to private property in factors of production because they associate only this kind of property with systemic exploitation and an oppressive social order. I conclude that Frontier Town theories are unlikely to illuminate property issues in real economies.

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Tom Lockhart

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