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EntitlementThe Paradoxes of Property$
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Joseph William Singer

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780300080193

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300080193.001.0001

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Systemic and Distributive Norms

Systemic and Distributive Norms

(p.140) Chapter 4 Systemic and Distributive Norms

Joseph William Singer

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the understanding of property not just as an individual entitlement but also as a system. It uses a thought experiment involving the transfer from a communist regime to a private property regime, wherein the government hands out all the land, buildings, and industry in the country to ten families that had formed the crux of the aristocracy in the nineteenth-century. The chapter looks at property as a system due to its interconnectedness—a property system does not merely deal with individual entitlements, but is also an institutional structure that sets the grounds rules for human interaction in order to foster a peaceful coexistence. Frank Michelman points out two central distinctions in the philosophical discussion of property rights: positive liberty and negative liberty versus positive rights and negative rights. Positive rights, for example, are the entitlements to be granted ownership or control of resources, whereas Negative rights are understood as rights “to be left alone in certain respects free of interference by others.”

Keywords:   individual entitlement, private property regime, property as a system, property system, Frank Michelman, property rights, positive liberty, negative liberty, positive rights, negative rights

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