Onni Hirvonen (University of Jyväskylä), 'Ontology of private property: Hegel’s folly'
How can a person justify that a certain object in the world belongs to her? Private property is one of the central institutions of contemporary world, and in the contemporary thinking there are two prevalent intuitions about property and its acquisition – both of which can be found already from Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. The first spells out the assumed link between labor and property. According to this idea, property is acquired through working (as famously stated by John Locke) or exerting one’s will upon external nature. However, this “labor theory of property” has been criticized for overlooking the social elements of the constitution of property. These are the focal point of the second commonly shared intuition, which states that for something to be considered as property, it needs to be collectively accepted or publicly recognized as such.
This talk discusses Hegel’s two-dimensional account of the ontology of private property. The main argument is that Hegel catches something important about the nature of private property but, relying on the labor theory of property, his account is fundamentally flawed. Instead of relying on labor theory, it is claimed that work, property rights, and public recognition of contributions are interwoven in a way that makes property essentially political.
|Name||Dr Suzanne Whitten|