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Is there a right to private property? In our constitution there is no federal regulation regarding the ownership of property by individuals, which leaves any property under license to the state. When talking about private property, the ability of someone to own or control something is the main topic. However, there is not any right to private property because the concept of ownership holds no actual value or meaning, and because Private property is a system of individual decision making in a world where working together in harmony is often emphasized.
Ownership is a very subjective word that changes for every person who uses it. Some, believers of Locke, would say that there is a natural inclination for private property while supporters of the devil’s advocate to this argument believe that property rights are not natural, but rather that they are formed through a social hierarchy and kept through the ability to enforce or defend these rights. Hobbes and Hume were supporters of the latter position through their belief that there is no natural “mine” or “thine”. In order to fully understand the debate between the two a definition of the word “ownership” is required. As printed in the Oxford Dictionary, the word “ownership” is defined as: the act, state, or right of possessing something. Supporters of the natural right to private property felt that mixing their own labor with it in order to improve it converted it from public to private. They felt that using the natural right to your own body in order to change or improve something equaled ownership, however making a claim based on a word that is defined solely by social construction cannot be considered a valid assumption. As a society we decided to put a definition to the word ownership but it never existed before the construction of the word.
Plato argued that collective ownership is necessary to promote common pursuit of a common interest, which makes sense because with private property the pursuit of anything will be in the best interest of a singular “owner”. In order to ensure that all people will provide effort in an attempt to reach a common goal, common benefits must be revealed so that more effort can be put towards one thing rather than many personal goals at the same time. If private property were to be a right for every individual, things would get confusing very quickly. If there is a disagreement between two individuals regarding property, as will be inevitable because each individual has an individual goal and purpose, the state must step in anyway so, why not cut corners and start with the state by giving them the control before the singularity of private property causes issues. Consent is necessary because everyone is affected by the decisions about the use and control of a given set of resources. In support of this theory are the philosophies of Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jaques Rousseau.
Individual rights regarding private property are left un-enumerated in our constitution, so we cannot assume that they exist. Ownership cannot be assumed based on Locke’s principal of labor. Therefore, in conclusion, there is no right to private property because ownership cannot be distinctly and singularly defined as one thing, and because the state holds a power over the control of property.
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