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THE IMPLICATIONS OF JOHN LOCKE’S CONCEPT OF PROPERTY RIGHT

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 Sep 25, 2019 |  12:29 pm |  2779

ABSTRACT

John Locke defined property right as right acquired through fixing of property by means of mixing personal labour with natural resources. Locke asserts that what constitutes primary title for property is labour. In the state of nature, a man’s labour is his own and what he mixes with his labour becomes his own. He focuses attention on propounding natural right to property. As man has the right and duty to self-preservation, so has he the right to the means required for this purpose. He argues that God, who gave the world to men in common, gave them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience. However, he sets limit to what a man can mix with his labour and convert to his property. For him, the same law of nature that gave man property also sets acquisition limit such that as much as one can use for the advantage of life before it spoils can he with his labour fix as property. The implications of Locke’s position on property right is that if mixing of labour with resources lying in nature is the only criterion for property right then those who acquire theirs through other means such as inheritance, gift, transfer and trade cannot claim any property right in them because they did not mix any personal labour with resources lying in nature to fix them as property. Though, Locke is correct by proposing mixing of labour with resource lying in nature as the condition for property right, it is not the only means of property acquisition. Property can also be acquired through inheritance, transfer, gift and transaction on already acquired piece of property. However, its strength is that it addresses the prevalent social ill of demanding and receiving emoluments without proportional work output.

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

1.1       Background to the Study

I had an experience about villages in Umualor community that declare lands which had been apportioned as personal lands communal and began afresh to reapportion those lands to individuals who were ready to build houses thereby depriving the owners who had no fund to start building houses on their own portions where they already have other economic trees their rights to those lands and economic trees. Very often the Government acquires someone’s personal land for construction purpose without compensation in the name of overriding public interest. People, especially widows and orphans sometimes came to my office to complain about having their personal belongings claimed from them by usurpers. These experiences have inspired me to undertake a research on how legitimate property right can be acquired.

One of the problems facing philosophy today is the issue of property right. The problem focuses on property as a general term for rules governing access and control of land and material resources. These rules are disputed with regard to their general shape and their particular application. In the words of Heinrich Rommen, ‘“thou shall not steal” presupposes the institution of private property as pertaining to the natural law’[i]. Consequently, there are interesting philosophical issues about justification of private property ownership despite the opinion of some philosophers. For instance, John Rawls argues that questions about the system of ownership are secondary or derivative questions, to be dealt with pragmatically rather than as issues in ethical philosophy.[ii] Many more philosophers have developed theories aimed at analyzing the problem of property ownership. John Locke is one of such philosophers. He argues that God gave the world to men in common, and gave them `reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience. There must necessarily be a means of appropriating those resources owned in common some way or another.[iii] In line with this, Frederick Copleston states that Locke is of the view that, though God has not divided the earth and things on it, reason shows that it is in accord with divine will that there should be private property.[iv] John Locke undertook an intellectual excursus on justification of private property ownership.  His theory of property right is built on the nature of property and the nature of the labour. Private property ownership arises from naturally existing resources through application of labour.[v] Labour is both the justification and the means to have legitimate private property. Locke’s theory also seems to place limits on the property acquisition and sets precedence to the ultimate need to protect property by means of governance. [vi] Previous studies on Locke’s concept of property right focused attention on analysis, clarification and evaluation of the concept of property. Little or no attention was paid to articulating its implications in daily life and applying it to specific situations, hence, the need for this study. This project is concerned with issues that relate to this.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

The problem of this study is whether labour can be the only criterion upon which property right can be based. If labour is the only criterion for claiming property right, it implies that inheritance, transfer, mortgage and gift-giving cannot yield property right. On the contrary if inheritance, transfer, mortgage and gift-giving are sources of property right, then John Locke’s assertion that what constitutes title for property right is labour[vii] is not absolute. If this is true, then Locke’s theory can only specify necessary but not sufficient conditions for an individual to become the legitimate owner of an object which has not previously been owned by any individual.  This is the problem which this work sets out to analyze.

 

1.3. Thesis of the Study

In this work the author sets out to defend the fact that though labour gives right to private property as Locke claims, labour is not the only means of acquiring right to private property. Property right can also be acquired through inheritance, transfer, mortgage and gift.

1.4. Purpose of the study

The main objective of this study was to investigate the implications of labour as the only criterion for property right in John Locke. Specific objectives were to: (i) expose Locke’s notion of property right, (ii) investigate the implications of Locke’s position on property right and (iii) highlight the strengths and weaknesses of Locke’s concept of property right.

1.5. Scope of the Study

  This research is limited to an examination of implications of John Locke’s theory of property right. It  is also limited to an intellectual understanding of right to private property ownership and will not in any way lay claim to being exhaustive because learning is an ongoing activity.

1.6. Significance of the Study   

This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, it impacts greatly on the academic domain by advancing an understanding of legitimate claim to property right among academics. The practical significance is that it brings to light that work output and remuneration ought to be proportional. John Locke presents a philosophical system in which labour gives one title to property right. The phenomenon of unprecedented remuneration without commensurate or proportional labour output is addressed in this work. It brings to light justice in wages which has enormous implication in daily life, and for those in political position, civil service and free capitalist market.

1.7. Research Methodology

The research methodology adopted historical-descriptive design. Data for the study were sourced from books, journals and articles. In handling these materials, the historical, expository, analytical and critical methods were employed.  With the historical method, the subject of enquiry was located within historical perspective. With the expository method an attempt was made to understand the author. In the same vein, the analytical method was used to analyze the subject of enquiry and the critical method was used to subject his views to critical scrutiny.

1.8. Clarification of Concept

There is the need to clarify the key variables in the topic under discussion. The term property is used to describe the legal and ethical entitlements that particular people or groups have to use and manage particular resources. Property includes the full gamut of rights to use owned resource, exclude others from entering it, and alienate it. According to Michael Weir, ‘the term property is sufficiently comprehensive to include every specie of estate, real and personal, and everything which one person owns and can transfer to another’.[viii] The term ‘property’ is used to describe the legal and ethical entitlements that particular people or groups have to use or manage particular resources.

Right is a legal, social, or ethical principle of freedom or entitlement. Leif Wenar argues that ‘rights are entitlements (not) to perform certain actions, or (not) to be in certain states; or entitlements that others (not) perform certain actions or (not) be in certain states’.[ix] Where there are rights, there are also duties.  If  one  has  the  right  to  one's own  body,  then  all  others  have  a  duty  to  refrain  from  aggressing  against  the bodies  of  others.  These rights and duties are reciprocal.  Of course, this is also John Locke’s position. He opines that one may give up his right if he aggresses against the rights of others.    For  example,  if  Mr. A punches  Mr. B in  the  nose,  Mr. A  gives  up  his right  not  to  be  punched  in return or  not to  be  physically restrained  by anyone  else to  prevent  further  aggression. Locke’s theory of property rights flows from this axiom.

 All men may be restrained from invading others' rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of Nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of Nature is in that state put into every man's hands, whereby everyone has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree as may hinder its violation.[x]

 John  Locke was  one  of  the  early proponents  of  this  view  in  its  modern  form, [xi]  although  Aristotle[xii]  and  other  ancient Greek  and  Roman philosophers also  discussed  property rights. John Locke defined property right as right acquired through fixing of property by means of mixing personal labour with natural resources. [xiii]  Locke's  position was  that  if  you  mix  your  labor  with  un-owned  resources it becomes yours. No  one  has  a  right  to  use  force  to  take  it  from  you.[xiv]  Robert Nozick defends this in his entitlement theory of rights. [xv] In the researcher’s view, property right is a legal, social, or ethical principle of entitlement to use owned resource, alienate it and exclude others from meddling in it.

According to Jeremy Waldron, there are three perspectives of property right arguments: common property, collective property, and private property. In a common property system, right to property centers on rules whose point makes property available for use by all or any members of the society. A park may be open to all for picnics, sports or recreation. Right to use of such common property secures fair access for all and to prevent anyone from using the common resource in a way that would preclude its use by others having right to it.[xvi]

In collective property right, the community as a whole wields the right to determine how collectively owned pieces of property are to be used. These determinations are made on the basis of the social interest through mechanisms of collective decision-making.[xvii]

In private property right, rules guiding the use of property are organized around the idea that various contested resources are assigned to the decisional authority of particular individuals, families or firms.[xviii]

There might be need to define the following terms that may be found recurrent in the cause of this work:

1.   Ethics is fundamentally a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.

2.   Land is any part of the earth’s surface bestowed by nature and not covered by water.

3.   Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property right, in which all property is owned privately.

Beyond most general definitions of property and the right to it, is the domain of philosophical controversy. These controversies assume compounded shape especially when property right is not used to apply to the obvious cases of land and chattels.[xix] The topic of this project deals with ethical principle of ownership - not of intellectual property but of tangible property - which allows a person or group of persons to retain and use owned resource, exclude others from using it, and or not alienate it as understood and taught by John Locke.



[i] Heinrich Rommen, The Natural Law, Study in Legal and Social History and Philosophy, (Indiana: Liberty Fund Inc., 1998), 57

[ii] John Rawls,  A Theory of Justice, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), 274

[iii] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, (New York: Everyman’s Liberary, 1978), 129

[iv] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, (London: Continuum, 2003), 129

[v] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 132

[vi] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5 130

[vii] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 132

[viii] Michael Weir, “Concepts of Property”, The National Legal Eagle 7:1, (2001), 1.

[ix] Wenar, Leif, Rights, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Fall 2015 Edition, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/rights/>

[x] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 120

[xi] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 120

[xii] Aristotle. Politics,  ed. Stephen Everson, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988) II,5

[xiii] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xiv] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xv] Robert  Nozick,  Anarchy,  State  &  Utopia  (New  York:  Basic  Books,  1974), 168

[xvi] Jeremy Waldron.  "Property and Ownership", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Winter 2016. Edward N. Zalta ed., http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/property/

[xvii] Jeremy Waldron.  "Property and Ownership", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/property/>

[xviii] Jeremy Waldron.  "Property and Ownership", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Winter 2016, <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/property/>

[xix] Hohfeld, W. “Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning.” Yale Law Journal 23 (1913), 16-59

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

This chapter presents a historical excursus on the development of theories of private property. Effort will be made at showing how these relate to our topic positively or negatively.

2.1.            Theories of Property Right

Throughout history ownership of means of production has been understood as the bases of stable social order. Ethical and political scientists have stressed this fact from earliest times.

Plato (462b-c), in the Republic argues in favour of collective ownership of property which he said was necessary to promote common pursuit of the common interest. He also opines that it helps to avoid the social divisiveness that would occur ‘when some grieve exceedingly and others rejoice at the same happenings.’[xix] This view relates to John Locke’s doctrine on limitation in accumulation of property. Locke observes that if gathering the fruit of the earth confers ownership right to men, everyone would continue unlimitedly to acquire wealth without reserving some quantity to serve other people’s need. Locke prescribe a limitation on the ground that ‘the same law of nature that doth by this means give us property does also bind that property too’ such that as much as one can make for the advantage of life before it spoils can he with his labour fix as property. Whatever is beyond this is not his but belongs to others.[xix]

Still in the Republic, Plato writes about liberty in a democratic city. He states that the insatiate lust for wealth and the neglect of everything else for the sake of money-making is the cause of the undoing of democracy. This is because in the same way in which democracy arises out of oligarchy, tyranny arises from democracy. The good – that is wealth – is the cause of the establishment of oligarchy. He then opines that the criterion of democracy is liberty and which is ‘best managed in a democratic city, and for this reason that is the only city in which a man of free spirit will care to live’.[xix] This smacks of similarity between Plato’s views and Karl Marx[xix]  as both were major proponents of communism.

Locke, on the other hand, is a renowned exponent of liberty. Only liberty which the government has the duty to guarantee leads to secure enjoyment of property. [xix] According to him, the natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the legislative authority of any man, but to have only the law of nature as its rule. He holds that liberty to follow one’s own will in all things is to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man. He further states that this freedom from absolute, arbitrary power is very necessary and closely joined with man's preservation, that he cannot part with it except what ends both his preservation and life together.[xix] This idea came as a reacting against Sir Robert Filmer who holds that liberty for everyone is to do what he lists, to live as one pleases, and not to be tied by any laws. Aristotle did not find Plato’s view accommodating and proposed the opposite instead.

The views of Aristotle (384 – 321 B.C.), in the Politics are very important because the entire structure of his thought had an enormous and even dominant influence on the economic and social thought of the middle Ages. Although, Aristotle, in the Greek tradition, scorns money making and is scarcely a supporter of laissez-faire, he argues in favour of private property. Aristotle attacks the communism of the ruling class advocated by Plato denouncing Plato's perfect unity of the State through communism. He points out that such extreme unity contravenes the diversity of mankind and a reciprocal benefit that everyone reaps through market exchange.

Aristotle makes contrast between private and communal property. He asks: ‘let us consider what should be our arrangements about property: should the citizens of the perfect State have their possessions in common or not?’[xix] He presents his answers thus: first, private property is highly productive and will therefore lead to progress. ‘Goods owned in common by a large number of people will receive little attention, since people will mainly consult their own self-interest and will neglect all duties they can leave for others. In contrast, people will devote the greatest interest and care to their own property’. He writes: ‘Property should be in a certain sense common, but, as a general rule, private; for, when everyone has a distinct interest, men will not complain of one another, and they will make more progress, because everyone will be attending to his own business’.[xix]

Second, against Plato who argued that communal property is conducive to social peace, since no one will be envious to grab the property of another, Aristotle asserts that communal property would lead to perpetually intense conflict since everyone will complain that one has worked harder and, yet, obtain less than everyone else who has done little and taken more from the common store.[xix] ‘When the husbandmen are not the owners, the case will be different and easier to deal with; but when they till the ground for themselves the question of ownership will give a world of trouble. If they do not share equal enjoyments and toils, those who labour much and get little will necessarily complain against those who labor little and receive or consume much’.[xix]

Third, private ownership of property is natural to man. This is most evident in his love of self, of money, and of property which are bound together in a ‘natural love of exclusive ownership’.[xix]

 Fourth, Aristotle points out that private property is as old as man himself since it has existed always and everywhere[xix]. Thus, to impose communal property ownership on society would amount to a disregard of record of human experience, and a leap into novelty, not yet experimented. Therefore, abolishing private property would perhaps raise more problems than it would solve.

To summarize his argument, Aristotle opines that only private property furnishes people with the opportunity to act morally, for instance to practice the virtues of benevolence and philanthropy[xix]. For, although ‘every man has his own property, some things he will place at the disposal of his friends, while of others he shares the use with them. The Lacedaemonians, for example, use one another's slaves, and horses, and dogs, as if they were their own; and when they lack provisions on a journey, they appropriate what they find in the fields throughout the country. It is clearly better that property should be private, but the use of it common; and the special business of the legislator is to create in men this benevolent disposition’.[xix] Hence, Aristotle is of the view that property should be owned privately but should be used commonly.

Aristotle’s thought relates closely to John Locke’s in the sense that Locke opines that God has given the wealth of the earth to men in common. Locke writes that he would ‘endeavor to show, how men might come to have property in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common’.[xix] However, he stated that God, who gave the world to men in common, gave them `reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience. Thus, all the fruits it naturally produces and beasts it feeds belong to mankind in common but there must necessarily be a means of appropriating them some way or another. Dilating on this point Locke claimed that ‘the fruit, or venison, which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no enclosure, and is still a tenant in common, must be his, and so his…that another can no longer have any right to it, before it can do him any good for the support of his life’.[xix] In line with this, Frederick Copleston states that Locke is of the view that, though God has not divided the earth and things on it, reason shows that it is in accord with divine will that there should be private property.[xix]

Aristotle also reflects on the relation between property and freedom, and the contribution that ownership makes to a person's being a free man and thus suitable for citizenship. The Greeks take liberty to be a status defined by contrast with slavery, and for Aristotle, to be free is to belong to oneself, to be one's own man, whereas the slave is by nature the property of another. Self-possession is connected with having sufficient distance from one's desires to enable one practice the virtuous self-control. This means that natural slave is not free because his reason cannot prescribe a rule to his bodily appetites to own property. Thus, not to own property is to be perpetually enslaved to another who dictates the means and the mode of use of the property.  He makes the case that private property is the best form of property ownership.

John Locke is also of the view that there is a relationship between liberty and property right. For Locke the end of Government is the preservation of property right as deduced from the right man enjoys in a hypothetical state of nature marked by natural liberty and equality. Locke further states that this freedom from absolute, arbitrary power is very necessary and closely joined with man's preservation, that he cannot part with it except what ends both his preservation and life together[xix] and that is the only fertile ground for secure enjoyment of property. It is also clear that Locke claims that lack of freedom is to be enslaved and any condition that can lead to slavery is the enemy of self-preservation and ought to be fought with an incredible quantity of energy. He asserts that a man may destroy a man who makes war on his liberty or has discovered enmity with his being for the same reason he may kill a wolf or a lion because the aggressor is not under the common law of reason and has no other rule except that of force and violence. Otherwise, he would destroy his freedom and make him a slave. He wrote: ‘he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power does thereby put himself into a state of war with him’.[xix] Frederick Copleston, reflecting on John Locke, writes that because man has the moral obligation to preserve and defend his life, he has the means at his disposal to do so; he has neither the right to take it himself nor the right to subject himself to slavery, to give another the power to take it[xix] and deny him the freedom to enjoy his property.

Though, Aristotle was critical of money-making, he opposes any limitation on an individual's accumulation of private property. Education, instead, should teach people voluntarily to curb their rampant desires and thus lead them to limit their own accumulations of wealth.[xix] John Locke on his part places limitation on an individual's accumulation of private property. Locke observes that if gathering the fruit of the earth confers ownership right to men, everyone would continue unlimitedly to acquire wealth, and he asserted that ‘the same law of nature that doth by this means give us property does also bind that property too’. As much as one can make for the advantage of life before it spoils can he with his labour fix as property. Thus, as much land as man tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can use the product of, so much is his property. Whatever is beyond this is not his but belongs to others.[xix] He makes it clear that reason establishes a limit to property acquisition such that there can be then little room for quarrels or contentions about property so established. He writes that if they perished in the possession of one who has acquired more than he needs, without due use of them such that the fruits rotten, or the venison petrifies, before they can be spent, one offends the common law of nature, and is liable to punishment. This is because he invaded his neighbour’s share, for he has no right, farther than his use calls for any of them to serve his convenience.

 Moreover, while being an overwhelming proponent of private property, Aristotle justifies its confiscation by the State later in the Politics.[xix] It is crystal clear here that Aristotle differs from John Locke in justification of the states right to confiscation of private property. Locke asserts that Government has merit only on the consent of the governed and that revolution is permissible when the government subverts the natural rights of life, liberty and property. He takes political power to be a ‘right of making laws, with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the common wealth from foreign injury and all this only for the public good’.[xix] Locke asserts that it is legitimate to rebel against any government that acts against preservations of right to property since it can never be conjectural to the society that the legislative should have a power to destroy the end which everyone designs to secure by entering into political society, and submitting themselves to legislators of their own accord. Locke holds that whenever the legislators take away or destroy the property of the people, or reduce them to slavery applying arbitrary power, the legislator by so acting put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God has provided for all men against force and violence. [xix]

Aristotle seems not to be a proponent of liberty as evident in his theory of rules. Aristotle distinguishes several types of rule, based on the nature of the soul of the ruler and of the subject. He first considers despotic rule, which is exemplified in the master-slave relationship. He thinks that despotic rule is justified in the case of natural slaves who lack a deliberative faculty and, consequently need a natural master to direct them.[xix] He defended slavery at lent in the Politics.[xix] He opines that a natural slave benefits from having a master; and that despotic rule is still primarily for the sake of the master and only incidentally for the slave.[xix] Aristotle’s assumption is that slaves are congenitally incapable of self-governance and if they are incapable of self-governance, why should they not be ruled for their own sakes.[xix] He condemned democracy, oligarchy and tyranny as defiant forms of government, and endorses kingship, aristocracy and polity as correct forms of government.[xix] From this, it is obvious that Aristotle is against preservation of right in a democratic sense. Conversely, Locke condemns slavery and endorses war against anyone who attempts to enslave another in the civil society as indicated above. That is the only way property can be preserved. Aristotle is aligned to John Locke in thought because, their thinking about right to property are similar but their legitimization of force in case of subversion of self and property reservation are not similar.

According to M. Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 – December 7, 43BC) in his De Officiis, "Right of ownership is inalienable forever in dealings with a stranger"[xix] Cicero’s views on private property reveal his political worldview. His reasons are rooted in natural law and the “laws of human society”. For him, there is no such thing as private ownership established by nature. Property becomes private either through ‘long occupancy or through conquest or by due process of law, bargain, or purchase, or by allotment’[xix]. To buttress this point, he made allusion to the ownership of occupied lands. He wrote that on this principle ‘the lands of Arpinum are said to belong to the Arpinates, the Tusculan lands to the Tusculans.’[xix] Similar to this is the assignment of private property. Therefore, inasmuch as in each case some of those things which by nature had been common property became the property of individuals, each one should retain possession of that which has fallen to his lot and if anyone appropriates to himself anything beyond that, he will be violating the laws of human society.[xix]    

Cicero sees rights as unifying and the violation of property rights as a grave injustice that destroys society’s harmony and the common bonds between men. Men of good will do not plunder their neighbors wealth, directly or through the apparatus of the state. Cicero gave reason why men accumulate private property: ‘Men seek riches partly to supply the needs of life, partly to secure the enjoyment of pleasure. [For] those who cherish higher ambitions, the desire for wealth is entertained with a view to power and influence and the means of bestowing favours’.[xix] For him private property is good because it gives rise to elegant and abundant fine establishments and the comforts of life which he believes to gives pleasure. For him, the desire to secure this gives rise to the insatiable thirst for wealth. He did not find fault with the accumulation of property provided it hurts nobody for unjust acquisition of it has to be avoided always.[xix]

Cicero states that government policy should be clear about protection of private property: ‘The man in an administrative office, however, must make it his first care that everyone shall have what belongs to him and that private citizens suffer no invasion of their property rights by act of the state’.[xix] For him, the primary purpose of the establishing constitutional state and municipal governments is ‘that individual property rights might be secured’. Though, it was by Nature's guidance that men formed communities, their primary motive was to safeguard their possessions. That was why they sought the protection of cities. Therefore administrations should make every effort to prevent the levying of a property tax.[xix]

There is a striking similarity between Cicero and Locke. Both of them believe that what has been lying on common can be privately appropriated but the means defer significantly. While for Cecero, what lies in common can be fixed as private through ‘long occupancy [as in the case of those who long ago settled in unoccupied territory] or through conquest [as in the case of those who took it in war] or by due process of law, bargain, or purchase, or by allotment’[xix], for Locke it is through labour [xix]. It is also interesting to note that Cicero and Locke smack of striking difference in their believe in the limit of appropriation. Cicero did not find fault with the accumulation of property provided it hurts nobody for is unjust and simply recommended that unjust acquisition of it has to be avoided always.[xix] He recommends each one should retain possession of what has fallen to his lot but also believes that anyone who appropriates to himself anything beyond his lot violates the laws of human society.[xix] Conversely, Locke holds that as much as one can make for the advantage of life before it spoils can he with his labour fix as property and that whatever is beyond this is not his but belongs to others.[xix] It is noteworthy that Cicero’s notion of the origin of private property is not quite the conception as Locke. For Cicero, there is no private ownership established by nature, but property becomes private through long occupancy, conquest, due process of law, bargain, purchase, or allotment. It is also clear that both Locke[xix] and Cicero[xix] believe that the state has the primary responsibility of protecting private property right.

Augustine (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430 A.D.) wrote profusely in his Grace and Free Choice in Answer to the Pelagians, on freedom. Early on he emphasized freedom of the will but while later combating the Pelagians held that men are not free on their own to save themselves. It must be admitted that Augustine does at times imply a conflict between God’s action and our freedom. This is evident when he says that inordinate desire is the cause of moral evil as well as when he interprets Old Testament texts such as those in Exodus where God is said to harden Pharaoh’s heart.[xix] However, there is sufficient material in his works to show that he denies the incompatibility of these activities.[xix] He does not write specifically on property right, but he seems to imply that our right to liberty and by implication even to own property depends directly on God. Similarly, Locke predicated his doctrine on God’s initiative to give the earth to men in common. [xix]

Thomas Aquinas (end of 1224 – March 7, 1274), in his Summa Theologica writes on property from the perspective of a theologian. His approach to property in discussing the Decalogue, the command that "Thou shalt not steal" is found in the Summa Theologica. Stealing is taking the property of another, whether secretly by theft (furtus) or openly by robbery (rapina). He responded to the questions: what is a man's claim to property? Why must others respect a man's claim to something as his own? The first article is on whether the possession of exterior goods is natural to man. The first point Thomas made was that God has possession over all things in a primary sense and that things by their nature obey God, since their nature issues from God himself. Man's ownership of things is about the use of things for his own good. Lower things exist for the sake of higher things, and so the things of nature are for the sake of man to use for his own good. We may note that Aquinas is not addressing whether one man may lay claim to ownership of a thing but whether man has the right to use the earth. Aquinas’s argument is that just as other animals, man needs certain things to live. Nature provides young birds with the yolk of their eggs, young mammals are provided with milk, and man also looks in his own way to nature for sustenance. Aquinas opines that man, through his use of reason and will, can use exterior things as if they had been made for his use, for it seems that the less perfect things have been created for the sake of more perfect things. The natural dominion of man over other creatures, which belongs to man in keeping with his reason, is manifested in the creation of man: ‘Let us make man to our image and likeness and he will be lord over the fishes of the sea.’[xix]

Locke’s argument that God has given the wealth of the earth to men seems to flow from Aquinas. Locke writes that he would ‘endeavor to show, how men might come to have property in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common’.[xix] His thought that God, who gave the world to men in common, gave them `reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience corresponds to Aquinas view. Put otherwise, Locke may have meant to write that God gave man reason to have dominion over the earth for the convenience of life. He seems to mean that property right is natural to man which is the point Aquinas drives home. Longing for satisfaction is natural to man therefore possession of the mean to this end is also natural to man. 

The second article concerns private property as such. Man, Aquinas states, has the moral right to take possession of things based on need. In line with Aristotle, he writes that the power or right to procure private property is based on three reasons: First, every person is more concerned about something that will belong to him alone.[xix] If something belongs to all, everyone would shirk the labour, shifting to others every labour which concerns the whole community. Diligence at duty would be lost because it would be all about public property. Human affairs are handled in a more orderly manner when each man takes care of procuring something as his own.[xix]

John Locke relates closely to this idea. He wisely placed mixing labour with resources as condition for fixing private property. Perhaps Locke was determined to applying labour condition to encouraging diligence. He wrote that ‘he that in obedience to…command of God, subdued, tilled and sowed any part of it [the earth], thereby annexed to it something that was his property[his labour], which another had no title to, nor could without injury take from him’.[xix] Thus, there is a point of convergence between Aquinas and Locke.

Aquinas demonstrates a basic recognition of the uniqueness of humans in creation, and that God intends humans to use natural resources for personal benefit. Aquinas deflates the argument that humans are alien parasites on the earth that should avoid using natural resources. [xix] It should be recalled that Aquinas and Locke also converge in this point as mentioned under Aristotle that Locke holds that God gave man reason to make use of natural resources to the best advantage of life and convenience.[xix] Second, human affairs are handled in a more orderly manner when everyone takes responsibility of procuring something as his own[xix]. Locke has always expressed concern about how property should be cared for or handled. He saddles the state with this responsibility as the end of its existence. [xix]  Third, men live better and in peace when each individual is content with his own things. If a group of people own something in common, there would be frequent quarrels. Here again Aquinas observes that people cannot be content with what they own if there is no understanding of what they own. When things are held in common, everyone has an equal right to it. A problem arises about who determines how to get to the use of the communal property. Is it simply according to the order that someone requests it, or should there be a determination as to the relative need? According to Aquinas, these are questions that private property helps to answer, which, in turn, helps to reduce conflict. This argument seems anti-communism. Plato[xix] and Karl Max[xix]  disagree with this position as they are proponents of communism. However, it does go down well with John Locke whose idea of civil society is fundamentally democratic and has private property protection as its end. [xix] 

Concerning use of things, Aquinas states that while each man has the right to own property one does not have the right to use the property without regard to others. They offer him opportunity for philanthropy and should share them willingly with others who are in need.  From the foregoing one can infer that for Aquinas, private ownership of property is relative and for the sake of men’s need, a means of ensuring peaceful society, and the most efficient way of managing the goods of the earth. Thomas Aquinas as a great philosopher-theologian of the scholastic era wrote predominantly from a Christian background and naturally based his argument on Christian principles. Aquinas obviously influenced Locke who later proposed his principle of leaving enough for others. [xix] Locke’s position in this regard means that charity demands that enough good be left for others not in the sense of philanthropy but that others also have right to enough resources in which to fix their own property through their labour. [xix]

Hugo Grotius (1583 - 1645) in his work The Rights of War and Peace was famous for having generated his right theory almost entirely without theological assumptions. Neither God’s will nor Law was at the center of his thought on natural law. He built upon man’s sociability and consequent desire for peace. For him, the mother of natural law is nature itself. He understands civil society as man’s creation for the purpose of protecting rights and bringing peace for the community. For him the design of the society is that everyone should quietly enjoy his own property right with the help and by the united force of the whole community.[xix] According to him, the right of defense extends not only to one’s life but also to one’s body and property. For him, property may be defended with lethal force if such force is necessary for retaining it.[xix]

According to Andrew Blom, Hugo Grotius argued that the Spanish claims to a trading monopoly in the Southeast Asia and elsewhere where based on falsehood. During exploration, the Spanish claimed a right to monopoly of most trade roots. Against this claim, Hugo Grotius argues that these were rights conferred by papal authority or acquired by just conquest, but there was, in principle, no basis for any monopoly on access to the seas.

The freedom of the seas was entailed by the very nature of private property. To privately own a thing requires that one can occupy it, taking it out of the common store, and that one can make full use of it. The sea cannot be contained and is too plentiful for its usefulness to be exhausted by a few; hence, no one can take exclusive ownership of the sea. The seas remain open to all.[xix]

This question was essential in European relations in the period of intense competition between aspiring overseas empires, and Grotius’ work was a reference work in the intense debate.

There is a point of convergence between Grotius and Locke in the sense that both were defending their nations’ exploration policies. According to Bhikhu Parekh, Locke’s expansive intellectual investment on property right is an investment on British colonialism and political economy. This is reflected most conspicuously in his intervention in the European debates over colonial property rights. His arguments were built from natural jurisprudence and his thesis on property represents the summit of the seventeenth-century English efforts to validate their claims to American territory. This was happening simultaneously with rival theories of appropriation and presumed American right to their land.[xix] Invariably it was also pitted against Hugo Grotius’ defense of his nation’s right to overseas exploration roots.[xix]  Locke’s contribution to the global property disputes was most efficiently useful in justifying the establishment of European property in America.[xix] This was supported by Copleston who claimed that Locke’s theory of labour as the primary title for property was later incorporated into labour theory of value.[xix]

In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) writes that ‘the Right of Nature, which writers commonly call “Jus Naturale”, is the right each man has to use his own power as he wills for preservation of his own Nature.[xix] He makes a distinction between right and law. He opines that those who speak about this subject, used to confound “jus” and “lex” (right and law) but they ought to be distinguished, because right consists of liberty to do or to forbear, whereas law determines and binds one to do or to forbear.[xix] A right, then, is specie of liberty to own property.[xix] Hobbes’ concept of right is contained in Locke’s definition, since in protecting and preserving a right one maintains one’s freedom to exercise his right. However, there is a distinction because Locke asserts that we have right to property while Hobbes asserts that liberty is the essence of a right. For Hobbes, the will to cause harm arises in the vainglorious man from his aggressive desire for right to be allowed everything. In other persons the will to cause harm simply arises from the need to defend their property from those who have signaled their aggressive character.[xix]

Hobbes admitted a single exception to moral relativism about right in the state of nature.[xix] This right of nature seems to exacerbate the problem because according to the right of nature I have a right to what I subjectively believe is necessary to my self-preservation, and if what I believe is necessary for my self-preservation conflicts with what you believe is necessary for yours, then our rights conflict and morality in effect endorses war.

Sir Robert Filmer (17th century) in his Divine Right of Kings opines that the institution of kingship is analogous to that of fatherhood, that subjects are but children, whether obedient or unruly, and that property rights are akin to the household goods which a father may dole out among his children or to take back and dispose of according to his pleasure.  For Filmer, God’s gift was to Adam and his heir in succession, and not to his posterity.[xix] Filmer proposes by this a divine right of kings to determine possession and use of property. Locke claims, instead that the right of property ownership is natural on the individual provided he has acquired it by mixing his labour which is indisputably his with common goods of the earth[xix] and the duty of the ruler of the state is to protect it. [xix] While Filmer is an ardent proponent of a monarchical system of Government, Locke is a strong defender of democracy. [xix]

David Hume (1711 – 1776) in his work titled A Treatise of Human Nature defines property as those goods whose constant possession is established by laws of society, that is, by the laws of justice.[xix] Basic to Hume’s justification of a system of private property is his explana­tion of reason for members of the society agreeing to a convention. He asserts that disturbances inevitably arise in society if there are no conventions establishing and regulating the rights of property. He maintained that there is need for a convention entered into by all the members of the society to bestow stability on possession of external goods and leave everyone in a peaceful enjoyment of what he may acquire by his fortune and industry. Hume’s justification of a system of private property is thus logically subsequent to his explanation of a basic system of society. Once this convention about abstaining from the external goods of other people has been entered into, Hume maintains, there immediately arise the idea of justice and injustice. However, Fredrick Copleston, holds that Hume does not mean that there is any idea of property that is antecedent to system of justice.[xix] The existence of any basic system of justice presupposes certain facts about persons, what they possess and their natural environment. The rules of a system of private property are developed upon such a basic system.

Hume explains the social phenomenon of possession or ownership by appealing to the theoretical artifice of an imagined, hypothetical state of affairs in which ownership is absent. The hypothetical state of affairs is then compared with what Hume believes is an actual state of affairs where there are rules of ownership. By isolating the differences between these two states of affairs, Hume uncovers those conditions which he believes combine to result in a need for rules of ownership, that is, for a basic system of property. Hume’s hypothetical condition is one where all persons can get whatever they want or need without impediment.[xix]

Hume and Locke smack of similarities and dissimilarities on Property right. Locke claims that the aim of a commonwealth is a ‘comfortable, safe, and peaceable living, one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any that are not of it’. This sounds similar to Hume. Locke writes on the ends of political society and government that ‘the great and chief end, therefore, of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property; to which in the state of Nature there are many things wanting’.[xix]

Locke believes that each person owns his labour. Therefore, if a person put any energy into resources in nature, the outcome is his. For Hume, uninstructed nature, surely, never made claim of what is mine or yours and since property has never been defined by nature, the concept is man-made. Both Locke[xix] and Hume[xix] believe that civil societies are made to establish laws governing possession of property. Hume writes that private property is a necessity. Both also believe that absence of private property exposes people to the violence of others. People acquiring personal property and constantly looking to improve object will lead to the growth of a society. Hume and Locke agreed that the end of civil society is the preserva­tion of private property. However, Hume’s position is plainly non-Lockean.

Immanuel Kant’s (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804) account of property rights is embedded within his general ethical system, centered on the Categorical Imperative described in The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Immanuel Kant's work on property is more formal and abstract than Locke’s. Kant began by emphasizing a general connection between property and civil constitution. He thought that there would be an affront to civil agency and thus to human personality, if some systems were not arrived at which could permit useful objects (resources) to be used. He inferred from this that ‘it is a duty of right to act towards others so that what is external or usable could also become someone's’.[xix] This seems to legitimize unilateral appropriation. But, appropriation of resources as private property affects everyone else in the sense that it imposes duties on people which they would otherwise not have. Thus, acquiring useful objects (natural resources) cannot acquire full legitimacy by unilateral action. It must be ratified by an arrangement which respects everyone's interests in matter of private ownership. Kant argued on this ground that there is a force of principle which requires people to act so that external objects can be used as property which also requires them to enter into a civil constitution which in turn will actually settle who is to be the owner of property on a basis that is fair to all.[xix] Kant further stated that if the scheme of ownership endorsed by the ruler of a state is at odds with the true condition of ownership, it is not reason enough to disobey the ruler. For him, one must clearly establish that there is theft or embezzlement before disobedience is potentially permissible.[xix]

It is evident that Kant like Locke wrote about fixing ownership right in property through appropriation of useful resource. However, while Locke was explicit about the means which he argues was labour, Kant was silent about the means. He only prescribed moral ground for protection of property which draws from the general principle he outlined in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. While Kant condemns civil disobedience if the scheme of ownership endorsed by the ruler of a state is at odds with the true condition of ownership, Locke endorsed civil disobedience in a similar case. Locke asserts that it is legitimate to rebel against any government that acts against preservations of right to property since it can never be conjectural to the society that the legislative should have power to destroy the end which everyone designs to secure by entering into political society, and submitting themselves to legislators of their own accord. He further opines that whenever the legislators take away or destroy the property of the people, or reduce them to slavery applying arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God has provided for all men against force and violence. [xix]

John Stuart Mill (1806—1873) in his The Subjection of Women expressed the radical nature of his call for women’s equality as regards control of property. He wrote that husbands controlled their wives personal property with the occasional exception of land. It was until the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882 that women began to gain control of their personal property. Mill stated that Victorian wives lacked crucial features of legal personhood, since the husband was taken as the representative of the family including matters of property ownership. This gives some indication of how disturbing for him the idea of a marriage between equals could appear to the Victorians.[xix] For Mill, ‘whatever would be the wife’s if she were not married should be under her exclusive control during marriage, and similarly for the husband. This still leaves them free to tie up property by settlement, in order to preserve it for children’. Some people are shocked, he thought, by the idea of a wife and a husband having separate interests in matters of money that they sentimentally think that it is inconsistent with the ideal fusion of two lives into one. They are right about the ideal but wrong about the practice. Mill strongly supports community of goods when this results from a complete unity of feeling among the owners, but has no taste for a community of goods that relies on the doctrine that what is mine is yours but what is yours is not mine. He would choose not to enter into such a contract with anyone, even if he were the person to profit by it. [xix]

According to Mill, the situation of a woman who has property is materially improved in the marriage relation by leaving her one instrument of power that she has not signed away. It also prevents scandalous abuse of the marriage institution in which a man traps a girl into marrying him purely so as to get her money - a situation called simulation of marriage. In a just state of things, Mill did not think it was desirable that the wife should usually contribute by her labour to the income or property of the family but Mill also thought that her doing so might be useful to her by increasing her value in the eyes of the man who is legally her master. Mill was of the opinion that though the woman should have exclusive property right in what she would control if she were not married, she might not have independent property in what she earns with marriage contract. The power to earn while married is essential to her dignity. John Mill is of the opinion that though women have property right in their property before marriage, they ought to leave space free to tie up property by settlement, in order to preserve them for their children. [xix]

 John Locke is related to John Mill because both support that parents have the duty of transferring their property to their children. Locke assumes that there is natural right to inheriting property. He writes that every man is born with double rights: first, a right of freedom to his own person; and secondly, a right, before any other man, to inherit with his brethren his father’s goods. For him, the family is a natural society in which parents have an imposed obligation of providing for their offspring.[xix]

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel in their Communist Manifesto (1848) seem to argue that private property works against equality of all men since it creates class difference. Accordingly, he advocated communism. It is interesting to see Karl Marx arguing in his critique of Liberal Theories of property right against what he called primitive accumulation of capital. Marx notes that under Feudal Law, the proletariats were legally as entitled to their land as the aristocracy was to its manors. Marx cites several historical events in which large numbers of the peasantry were dispossessed of their lands, which were then seized by the aristocrats. These seized lands were then used for commercial ventures as sheep heading. Marx sees this primitive accumulation as integral to the creation of English Capitalism. Marx concluded that Liberal theories of property are idyllic fairy tales that hide a violent historical process.[xix] Marx advocated for the abolition of ownership of private property as expressed in the Communist Manifesto. He believes that everyone had natural rights but only to own property in common rather than in the more capitalist sense.[xix]

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel are not supporters of John Locke. Their position is that property should be owned communally.  There is a similarity between Plato’s views and Karl Marx[xix]  as both were major proponents of communism. Locke does not agree with this position.

The theory is organized under three principles: (a) Principle of justice in acquisition. (b) Principle of justice in transfer (c) Principle of justice in rectification. The first of these principles specifies necessary and sufficient conditions for an individual to become the legitimate owner of an object which has not previously been owned by any individual. Amongst the objects to which this principle is meant to be capable of applying are portions of the Earth’s surface, that is, areas of land. The principle of justice in acquisition to which Nozick subscribes may be formulated thus:

An individual A acquires at time T a full property right in an object O which has not previously been the property of any individual if and only if: (i) A mixes his labour with O at time T; and (ii) as a result of O becoming A’s private property, no one else is made any worse off than he or she would have been, O having being left un-appropriated by anyone and had everyone in consequence been free to use O without appropriating it.[xix]

Drawing from Locke and advancing further, Richard Ashcraft states that one moves from a ‘labour-use-familial-consumption stage of existence to a production-for-exchange society’ where men require laws to regulate their property rights. By compact and agreement, individuals settle at the property that labour and industry began.  Once men have settled common consent positively reached rather than natural right then determine the boundaries of property.[xix]

Moreover, it is evident that Locke forgot that someone’s labour can bear fruit of private property title for another man especially, in the opinion of Karl Marx, the masters who determine the means of labour through a system of alienated labour. This being the case one who has acquired such a title has no claim to the labour which has fix in the property as private. Karl Marx, feels that the bourgeoisie and the proletariat smack of inequities. The bourgeoisie own the means of production whereas the proletariat owns the labour which is mixed with resources to yield the dividend of property. Sequel to this system of production and labour, it is only natural that a working class will exist who will be constantly exploited by an overseeing upper class.[xix] This argument justifies ownership of only the value added by the appropriator, not the full resource value of an asset. Thus, Locke was wrong in believing that it is impossible to separate value added, and he seems to have believed that resource value is insignificant. If these beliefs are incorrect, the conclusion that the labourer should own the entire resource is weakened. Not all appropriation theorists accept first labour as the method by which property claims can be established. Some replace first labour with first claim, first use, first possession, or discovery. Some have proposed additional justifications for appropriation. However, they believe that property takes a pivotal role in a person’s life, that a stable property rights system produces efficiency gains that benefit everyone, and that appropriation is necessary to pursue projects, with which others should not interfere. More so, Locke opines that there is a limit to the much a man may mix with his labour and convert in his property.[xix] He writes that if they perished in the possession of one who has acquired more than he needs, without due use of them such that the fruits rotten or petrifies, one offends the common law of nature, and is liable to punishment because he invades his neighbour’s share, for he has no right, farther than his use calls for any of them to serve his convenience.

These rival and supporting theorists in association with John Locke on private property tradition show that intellection justification of property ownership has preoccupied man for centuries. Their traditions were dilated on and bitten into shapes as their theories found expression in ethics, government policies and positive laws.

2.2  Biography of John Locke

John Locke was born in Somerset village of Wrington, England on August 29, 1632. His life covered the civil war period, the bloodless revolution and the restoration. His mother died while he was an infant and his father, a country lawyer, died a few years thereafter. He was educated at the famous Westminster school from 1646 and the University of Oxford from 1652 where he studied the classics: Greek Rhetoric, and moral philosophy. His later training was in medicine and experimental science. In 1659 he was elected to a senior fellowship at Christ Church, Oxford. He spent some time on the European mainland during a period of employment as secretary to the English ambassador to the Elector of Brandenburg in 1665. In 1666 he practiced medicine on the politician Anthony Ashley Cooper. Locke was elected a fellow of the recently established Royal Society for Improving Natural Knowledge in 1668. It was Lord Ashley who began to put governmental appointments Locke's way. Locke suffered from asthma. Moreover, heavy work load helped the asthma to weigh him down and contributed to his return to Oxford from London in 1675. Later that year he relocated to France where he based in Montpellier and Paris until his return to England in 1679. Later’ Locke went to the United Provinces of the Netherlands (1683-1688). During these years in the United Provinces, Locke found time to finalize his Essay concerning Human Understanding. This essay constitutes greater part of his legacy in philosophy.[xix]

In the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9, William and Mary replaced James II as monarchs and the change of monarchy led to an alteration of the political climate in England. John Locke found favour with the new order and returned to England in February 1689 as a party to the crowned Mary II. Locke was offered a continental ambassadorship but preferred to take up a more modest domestic post in the Commission of Appeals for health reasons.   Locke was appointed Commissioner of Trade and Plantations in 1696 and held this position until he himself resigned because of ill health in 1700.

While Locke had more or less prepared a number of works during his various periods of exile, it was only after his return to a more sympathetic England in 1689 that his works began to be published on a significant scale. In February 1690 he published his Two Treatises of Government and his Essay concerning Human Understanding was published in March of the same year. Several Letters on Toleration followed shortly afterwards.[xix]  There were other subsequent works, his influential Thoughts on Education (1693) inclusive. However, Locke's reputation as a philosopher is paramount on his Essay concerning Human Understanding. His Two Treatises of Government being perhaps of more interest for their seeming direct impact on practical affairs.[xix] John Locke died at Oates, the country house of Lady and Lord Masham, in Essex on October 28, 1704.

 

End Notes

[xix] Plato, Republic, Trans. Robin Waterfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), VIII

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, (London: Continuum, 2003), 130

[xix] Plato, Republic, VIII

[xix] Nicole Smith, Dec 7, 2011. Comparison of Marx and Locke: Views on Government, Property and Labor. http://www.articlemyriad.com/comparison-marx-locke-views-government-property-labor/. Retrieved July 9, 2014.

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, (New York: Everyman’s Liberary, 1978), 129 - 141

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 127 - 128   

[xix] Aristotle. Politics,  ed. Stephen Everson, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), II, 5

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, II,5

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, II,5

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, II,5

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, II, 5

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, II,5

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, II.5

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, II, 5

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 129.

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 127 - 128   

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 125 - 127

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 129

[xix] Murray, N. R., Aristotle on Private Property and Money, http://mises.org/daily/3902, Retrieved May 27, 2014.

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5,  130

[xix] Justin Ptak, The Prehistory of Modern Economic Thought: The Aristotle in Austrian Theory (Providence, Rhode Island: Institute for Business Cycle Research, 2003), 29

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 118

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 118

[xix] Aristotle. Politics, I.13.1260a12

[xix] Aristotle, Politics, I.4–8

[xix] Aristotle, Politics,  III.6.1278b32–7

[xix] Aristotle, Politics,   I.12.1259a39-b4

[xix] Aristotle, Politics, III.7

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, Trans. Walter Miller, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1913), I, 37.

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 21

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 21

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 21

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 25

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 25

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 73

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 73

 

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 21

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 25

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 21

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5,  130

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 180 -182

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, I, 73

 

[xix] Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, trans. Thomas Williams, (Cambridge: Hackett, 1993), 1.4.

[xix] Augustine, Grace and Free Choice in Answer to the Pelagians IV, Part I, Vol. 26, ed. John E. Rotelle, Trans.  Roland Teske (New York: New City Press, 1999), 21, 42.

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129

[xix] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, ed. Paul E. Sigmund (New York: W.W. Norton, 1973), II-II q. 66

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129

[xix] Murray, N. R. Aristotle on Private Property and Money. http://mises.org/daily/3902 Retrieved may 17, 2016

[xix] Murray, N. R. Aristotle on Private Property and Money. http://mises.org/daily/3902

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 132

[xix]Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologicae, II-II q. 66

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129

[xix]Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologicae, II-II q. 66

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 180 -182

[xix] Plato, Republic, Trans. Robin Waterfield, VIII

[xix] Nicole Smith, Dec 7, 2011. Comparison of Marx and Locke: Views on Government, Property and Labor. http://www.articlemyriad.com/comparison-marx-locke-views-government-property-labor/. Retrieved July 9, 2014.

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 180 -182

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5,  130

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5,  130

[xix] Thomas Horne, Property rights and Poverty, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), 9

[xix] Andrew Blom, “Hugo Grotius”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN216 - 0002 James fieser &Bradley Dowden (eds.), http://www.iep.utm.edu/grotius/#SH4a. Retrieved December 7, 2016

[xix] Andrew Blom, “Hugo Grotius”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN2161-0002 

[xix] Bhikhu Parekh, “Liberalism and Colonialism: A Critique of Locke and Mill,” in The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power, ed. Jan Nederveen Peterse and Bhikhu Parekh (London: Zed Books, 1995), 83.

[xix] Andrew Blom, “Hugo Grotius”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN2161-0002 

[xix] Bhikhu Parekh, “Liberalism and Colonialism: A Critique of Locke and Mill,” in The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power, ed. Jan Nederveen Peterse and Bhikhu Parekh (London: Zed Books, 1995), 83.

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 130

[xix] Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 189

[xix] Hobbes, Leviathan, p. 189

[xix] Eleanor Curran, Hobbes’s Theory of Rights – A Modern Interest Theory, The Journal of Ethics, 6 (1), (Kent: Academic Repository, 2002) – http://kar.kent.ac.uk, 2002, p. 3-4

[xix] Arash Abizadeh, Hobbes on the Causes of War: A Disagreement Theory, American Political Science Review Vol. 105, No. 2 May 2011, McGill University, P.306

[xix] Arash Abizadeh, Hobbes on the Causes of War: A Disagreement Theory, American Political Science Review, P. 307

[xix] J. W. Gough, John Locke’s Political Philosophy, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 84

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 180 -182

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 118

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 336

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 336

[xix] Duncan Forbes, Hume’s Philosophical Politics, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 34 -41

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129 - 141

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 180 -182

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 336

[xix] Kant, Immanuel, The Metaphysics of Morals, Trans. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 74

[xix]Jeremy Waldron  Property and Ownership”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN2161-0004 Fieser, J. & Dowden, B. (eds.), https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/property/, 14 Retrieved December 15, 2016. 11–32

[xix] Marcus Verhaegh, “Kant and Property Rights”, Journal of Libertarian Studies, 18(3) 2004,14,  www.mises.org, Retrieved December 15, 2016.

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 118

[xix] Colin Heydt, ‘‘John Stuart Mill’’, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002, James Fieser &Bradley Dowden (eds), http://www.iep.utm.edu/home/about/, Nov. 18, 2016

[xix] John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, (Kitchener: Batoche Books, 2001), 21

[xix] John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, 21

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 130 -131

[xix] Nicole Smith, Dec 7, 2011. Comparison of Marx and Locke : Views on Government, Property and Labor. http://www.articlemyriad.com/comparison-marx-locke-views-government-property-labor/. Retrieved July 9, 2014.

[xix] Nicole Smith, Comparison of Marx and Locke: Views on Government, Property and Labour. http://www.articlemyriad.com/comparison-marx-locke-views-government-property-labour/, (2011), Retrieved July 9, 2014.

[xix] Nicole Smith, Dec 7, 2011. Comparison of Marx and Locke: Views on Government, Property and Labor. http://www.articlemyriad.com/comparison-marx-locke-views-government-property-labor/. Retrieved July 9, 2014.

[xix] David Conway, “Nozick’s Entitlement Theory of Justice: Three Critics Answered”, in Philosophical Notes No. 15, ISSN 0267-7091 ISBN 1 85637 (2005), 2

[xix] Richard Ashcraft, “Locke’s Political Philosophy”, in The Cambridge Companion to Locke, ed. Vere Chappell (Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 1994), 37

[xix] Patrick Coby, “Contradicting logic and history”, Interpretation, 22

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, (London: Continuum, 2003), 130

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, ed. T. I. Cook, (New York: Hafner Puplishing Co., 1965), vii - ix

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, vii

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, v - xiii        

CHAPTER THREE

EXPOSITION OF LOCKE’S PROPERTY RIGHT

3.1  State of Nature as the Foundation of Property Right

John Locke is an important English Philosopher, whose thought has been profoundly influential. His view on property right is expressed in his work Two Treatises on Government. He asserted that Government has merit only on the consent of the governed and that revolution is permissible when the government subverts the natural rights of life, liberty and property. He takes political power to be a ‘right of making laws, with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the common wealth from foreign injury and all this only for the public good’.[xix]

A vivid description of the state of nature will give a clearer perspective on Locke’s view on property right. For him, to understand political power and the responsibility of protecting rights correctly, and to derive it from its original, we must consider what ‘estate all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man’.[xix] Describing the state of nature, Locke writes that the most evident index is equality, in which all the power and jurisdiction are reciprocal, ‘there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection’. [xix]

Locke argues that the state of nature, though, a state of liberty is not a state of license. Man in the state has an uncontrollable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions yet he has not the liberty to destroy himself, or any creature in his possession, except where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. This is because the state of nature has natural law to govern it, and imposing itself on everyone and reason and teaching all mankind who cares to consult it that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions. He proposes a reason for this by stating that men are all the ‘workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker’ and are all the servants of one sovereign Master who sent them into the world by His order and for the purpose of His business. Men are, therefore, His property and workmanship He made to last doing His pleasure, not one another's pleasure. He furnishes men with like faculties which enables them to share all in one community of nature supposing there would be no subordination among them which may authorize any one to destroy one another as if one is made for another’s use or as of an inferior rank. Everyone is bound to preserve himself not quitting his station willingly, so that by like reason of his own preservation not based on competition, should strive to preserve the rest of mankind. Except when need arises to do justice to an offender, one should not take away or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of life, liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.[xix]

Speaking on preservation of right, Locke asserts that all men may be restrained from invading the other’s right and infringing in the law of nature. On this he wrote:

All men may be restrained from invading others' rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of Nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of Nature is in that state put into every man's hands, whereby everyone has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree as may hinder its violation.[xix]

Thus, he argues that there should be a personage entrusted with enforcing obedience to the law ‘for the law of Nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world, be in vain if there were nobody that in the state of Nature [who] had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders’ and if anyone in the state of Nature tries to punish another for any wrong doing, every one may do so because the state of Nature is a perfect state of equality.[xix] Locke states the reason for an overseer as being that ‘in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another, what any may do in prosecution of that law, everyone must need have a right to do’ as well.[xix] Thus, in the state of Nature, one man comes up with power over others, but yet no absolute or arbitrary power.

   Locke also writes on the state of war.  He justifies as reasonable the right to destroy that which threatens one with destruction. When there is threat to rights commonly shared in the state of nature, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred. He asserts that a man may destroy a man who makes war on him or has discovered enmity with his being for the same reason he may kill a wolf or a lion because the aggressor is not under the common law of reason and has no other rule except that of force and violence. Otherwise, he would destroy his freedom and make him a slave. He wrote: ‘he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power does thereby put himself into a state of war with him’.[xix] Frederick Copleston, reflecting on John Locke, writes that because man has the moral obligation to preserve and defend his life, he has the means at his disposal to do so; he has neither the right to take it himself nor the right to subject himself to slavery, to give another the power to take it.[xix]

   Locke writes about liberty in chapter four of the Second Treatise on Government. According to him, the natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the legislative authority of any man, but to have only the law of nature as the rule. Reacting against Sir Robert Filmer who holds that liberty for everyone is to do what he lists, to live as one pleases, and not to be tied by any laws, he asserts that liberty to follow one’s own will in all things is to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man, whereas freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of Nature. He further states that this freedom from absolute, arbitrary power is very necessary and closely joined with man's preservation, that he cannot part with it except what ends both his preservation and life together.[xix]

   In his discourse on the beginning of political society and on the dissolution of government, Locke claims that the aim of a commonwealth is a ‘comfortable, safe, and peaceable living, one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any that are not of it’. Locke writes on the ends of political society and government that ‘the great and chief end, therefore, of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property; to which in the state of Nature there are many things wanting’.[xix] They choose and authorized a legislative to ‘make laws, and set rules, as guards and fences to the properties of all the society, to limit the power and moderate the dominion of every part and member of the society’. This does not change their freedom from what is in the state of nature since ‘they are left, as they were, in the liberty of the state of Nature’, deciding their common will by the opinion of majority who act and conclude for the rest. This is because by consenting to one body politic and one government, they put themselves under an obligation with everyone else who is a member to submit to the determination of the majority for the secure enjoyment of their property.[xix] Consequently Locke asserts that it is legitimate to rebel against any government that acts against preservations of right to property since it can never be conjectural to the society that the legislative should have a power to destroy the end which everyone designs to secure by entering into political society, and submitting themselves to legislators of their own accord. He further opines that whenever the legislators take away or destroy the property of the people, or reduce them to slavery applying arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God has provided for all men against force and violence. [xix] Thus the end of Government is the preservation of property right as deduced from the right man enjoys in a hypothetical state of nature marked by natural liberty and equality.

3.2  Property Right

 In the Second Treatise on Government, Locke outlines his position on government: for Locke, political power is the ‘right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulation and preservation of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good’.[xix] He makes the state of nature the foundation of the right of property. In the state of nature he opines that as man has the duty and the right to preserve himself, he also has the right to all it takes to achieve it. In view of this, God has given the wealth of the earth to men. Locke writes that he would ‘endeavor to show, how men might come to have property in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common’.[xix] Expounding this, he argues that God who gave the world to men in common, gave them `reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience. Though, all the fruits it naturally produces and beasts it feeds belong to mankind in common there must necessarily be a means of appropriating them some way or another. ‘The fruit, or venison, which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no enclosure, and is still a tenant in common, must be his, and so his, i.e. a part of him, that another can no longer have any right to it, before it can do him any good for the support of his life’.[xix] In line with this, Frederick Copleston states that Locke is of the view that, though God has not divided the earth and things on it, reason shows that it is in accord with divine will that there should be private property.[xix]

   Locke asserts that what constitutes primary title for property is labour. John Locke defined property right as right acquired through fixing of property by means of mixing personal labour with natural resources. [xix]  In the chapter he devoted to property he wrote that when God gave the world in common to all mankind he commanded man also to labour and that the penury of his condition makes it inevitable.

God…commanded him to subdue the earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labour. He that in obedience to this command of God, subdued, tilled and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his property, which another had no title to, nor could without injury take from him.[xix]

He poses a question about when he who is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, becomes his - when he digests or when he eats or when he boils or when he brings them home or when he picks them up? He retorts that the answer is plain. If the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. Labour has put a distinction between them and the common and added something to them more than nature.[xix] In the state of nature, a man’s labour is his own and what he mixes with his labour becomes his own. Locke himself writes: ‘the labour that was mine, removing them out of that common state they were in, hath fixed my property in them’.[xix] He asks: ‘though the water running in the fountain be everyone’s, yet who can doubt, but that in the pitcher is his only who drew it out? His labour hath taken it out of the hands of nature, where it was common, and hath thereby appropriated it to himself’.[xix] In support of this, he argues that fish removed from the waters and hare a hunter appropriates after a chase is privately appropriated because Labour has been fixed with them and thereby giving the fisherman and the hunter the right to own them.[xix] According to Karl Widerquist, Locke claims that self-ownership implies that a person owns his labour and anything not owned he can mix it with. Second, labour improves resources and accounts for the value of property and thus implies that natural resources have no value until mixed with labour and consumed. Third, Locke is calling for improvement of resources through the pain of labour.[xix]

Is there a limit to the much a man may mix with his labour and convert in his property? Locke himself observes that if gathering the fruit of the earth confers ownership right to men, everyone would continue unlimitedly to acquire wealth, and he answered: ‘Not so. The same law of nature that doth by this means give us property does also bind that property too’. The fruit of the earth is given for man’s use and enjoyment. As much as one can make for the advantage of life before it spoils can he with his labour fix as property. Thus, as much land as man tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can use the product of, so much is his property. Whatever is beyond this is not his but belongs to others.[xix] He makes it clear that nothing is made by God for man to destroy and that reason establishes a limit to property acquisition such that there can be then little room for quarrels or contentions about property so established. He writes that if they perished in the possession of one who has acquired more than he needs, without due use of them such that the fruits rotten, or the venison petrifies, before they can be spent, one offends the common law of nature, and is liable to punishment. This is because he invaded his neighbour’s share, for he has no right, farther than his use calls for any of them to serve his convenience. G.C Anil, reflecting on this, said that many philosophers have pointed out that Locke endorses individuals’ original appropriation of resources in the state of nature provided that two conditions are met: the Lockean proviso of leaving enough and as good for others, and no spoilage condition.[xix]  

   It is evident that Locke assumes that there is natural right to inheriting property. He writes that every man is born with double rights: first, a right of freedom to his own person secondly, a right, before any other man, to inherit with his brethren his father’s goods. The family is a natural society in which parents have an imposed obligation of providing for their offspring. His attention is more on right to own property than on right to inheritance.[xix] From the foregoing, Locke subscribes to the notion of humankind’s original common ownership of the earth but his main project was to derive property right for individuals from the condition of original community of resources from the state of nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End Notes

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, (New York: Everyman’s Liberary, 1978), 118

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 118

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 118

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 119 - 120

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 120

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 120

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 120

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 125 - 127

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5 (London: Continuum, 2003), 129

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 127 - 128   

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129 - 141

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 179 - 182

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 118

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 180 -182

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 129

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 129.

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 132

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 131

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xix] Karl Widerquist, “Lockean Theory of Property: Justification for Unilateral Appropriation”, Public Reason 2(1), (Qatar: Georgetown University press, 2010), 6

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5,  130

[xix] G.C Anil, Original Ownership of the Globe and the Right of Relocation: A Theoretical Inquiry into the Validity of International Borders with Respect to People, (New York: Columbia University press, 2006), 2

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 130 -131

CHAPTER FOUR

IMPLICATIONS OF JOHN LOCKE’S THEORY OF PROPERTY RIGHT

This chapter deals with the implications of John Locke’s property right. Obviously, John Locke’s tableau of theory on property right is not without positive and negative implications. This will be the preoccupation of this chapter.

4.1 Negative Implications

 John Locke asserts that what constitutes title for property right is labour.[xix] In the state of nature, a man’s labour is his own and what he mixes with his labour becomes his own.[xix] Karl Widerquist states that Locke claims that self-ownership implies that a man owns his labour and anything not owned he can mix it with.[xix] The thesis of this study is that in as much as this is true that labour is a condition for acquiring property ownership right, labour is not the only condition through which property right can be acquired. There are other means through which property title can be fixed. This thesis is supported by Cicero who proposed that property can become private either through ‘long occupancy or through conquest or by due process of law, bargain, purchase, or by allotment’[xix]. Locke’s theory specifies necessary and sufficient conditions for an individual to become the legitimate owner of an object which has not previously been owned by any individual. Amongst the objects to which this principle is meant to be capable of applying are portions of the earth’s surface, that is, areas of land. The principle of justice in acquisition to which Nozick subscribes supports this, but the other principles are critical of Locke’s position on labour as sufficient condition for property right. Nozick proposed other principles such as principle of justice in transfer and principle of justice in rectification as other means of acquiring property right.[xix]

   Property can be acquired through inheritance. It is evident that Locke assumes that there is natural right to inheriting property. He writes that every man is born with double rights: first, a right of freedom to his own person; and secondly, a right, before any other man, to inherit with his brethren his father’s goods. For Locke, the family is a natural society in which parents have an imposed obligation of providing for their offspring. However, his attention is more on right to own property than on right to inheritance.[xix] He does not take right of inheritance as sufficient condition for property right. If Locke’s submission on labour as the sufficient condition for property right is true, no individual, family or community that acquired their land through inheritance, mortgage, transfer, rectification or gift can claim any ownership right over any land because every entity that has natural possessory right over land and landed property got it though inheritance. It is their ancestors’ labour that bore the fruit of those lands and transferred to them through inheritance. According to Caroline Guibet Lafaye, inheritance wealth is probably the main factor of wealth concentration among the richest part of the population, and of its intergenerational reproduction. In the United States, inheritance is primarily responsible for the fortunes of no less than sixty-seven percent of men who qualify as ultra-rich. In countries like France, inherited wealth accounts for a large part of all wealth possessed  (generally  estimated  at  around  40%)  and  represents  the  largest  descending  monetary transfer.[xix]

One can acquire title of property right through gift. Imagine a man receiving a gift of a house on his wedding day, a priest receiving a gift of a car on his ordination day, or a man receiving a cake on his birthday as a gift. Thenceforth, they reserve property right over these items even though they did not fix any property right in them through their labour. Resources must not be un-owned to claim ownership if mixed with labor.  One  may  enter  into  a  contract  to  work  for an  employer  in  exchange  for  wages  without  any  un-owned  property  coming  into the  picture.    Once  the  work  is  performed,  the  worker  is entitled  to  the  fruits  of his labour  --  usually  cash  --  which  were  earned  either  by  the  use  of  his  muscles  or brains,  both  of  which  are  body parts.  No  other  individual  or  group  of individuals has  a  superior  claim  to  the  fruits  of  that  labour,  not  even  the  tax  collector. This conclusion  does  not  change  whether  the  amount  received  through  voluntary exchange  is one naira or  two naira.

It is difficult to imagine whether Locke’s first labour appropriation theory can apply absolutely in the civil society. One may not even have absolute right over the use of the property one has. Locke’s emphasis on labour as the solid pedestal for justification of appropriation cannot stand in taxation. According to Robert Nozick in his discussion on re-distribution argues that redistribution can bear property right for another who does not own the labour. For Nozick, the hours spent in doing some work that yields the portion of wages that go into tax is seized from the labourer. He works during that portion of time, for another purpose which can be for other person’s benefit. He writes:

Seizing the results of someone’s labour is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing on various activities. If people force you to do certain work or unrewarded work, for a certain period of time they decide what you are to do and what purposes your work is to serve apart from the decisions. This process whereby they take this decision for you makes them a part of you; it gives them a property right in you.[xix]

Thus, someone’s labour can bear fruit of private property title for another man. According to Karl Marx, masters determine means of labour through a system of alienated labour and the labourer produces property title for the master through this means. This being the case one who has acquired such a title has no claim to the labour which has been fixed in the property as private. The bourgeoisie own the means of production whereas the proletariat owns the labour which is mixed with resources to yield the dividend of property.[xix]

Supposing that the state law over-rules the right one has over his property and forces one to forfeit his piece of property for the greater interest of all. For instance in Nigeria, the Land Use Act 1978 stripped the citizens of their overriding right over their lands and vested it on the Governor. It is such that any transaction on land, especially those situated in urban areas, cannot be legitimate unless the Governor is aware. That Act conferred on State Governors the custodian right to issue certificates of occupancy for land holders in their states. It states that all lands situated in the territory of each state in the country are vested in the Governor of the state. For Southern Nigeria in particular, this means appropriation of land from families and communities without any or sufficient compensation except for economic crops and other betterment on the land. In the same vein, all land allocations in the rural areas become the responsibility of the various local governments. The governor can declare part of the state territory Governed by him as an urban area by an order published in the state gazette.[xix] It usurped the power of control and management of land which was hitherto vested in the families, villages and communities. It has also removed corporate groups, families and chiefs from the ownership of land and replaced them with the state Governors.[xix] If this is the case, the state Governor by virtue of the law acquires right over use and allocation of land without originally mixing his labour with resources. Consider also the Niger Delta or the Ogoni people who originally occupied the oil rich peninsular.  Their ancestors’ labour gave them right over their land. But the Federal Republic of Nigeria has taken over exploitation of natural resources that exists in their land. Thus, fund from resources generated from their property or otherwise their land can now serve the need and purpose of those in faraway Northern Nigeria and these northerners can claim right over the petroleum revenue from Niger Delta.

In the Lockean Proviso of leaving enough for others, he prescribed a general principle or condition for appropriation, according to which property would not be used as an instrument of depriving others of the opportunity to use natural resources which is God’s gift for the preservation of mankind and personal preservation. Locke is short-sighted to a significant implication of this. It is remarkable that this proviso seems to be capable of applying only to initial appropriation, and while this proviso might be coherent; its application tends to limit the opportunities it promises to foster. If the proviso is expunged, there would be in effect more and better resources left for others. Now, the measure of acquisition is the convenience of life. If this were to hold, those who lack the requisite skills of mixing their labour with natural resources would be counted off in the race to appropriation. Convenience of life would, therefore, not be available to them. Only the deftly skilled in the art would ever be able to appropriate. Thus, people whose skills inclined them to philosophizing like Locke, professors, taxi drivers, rulers, the physically challenged or the unskillful in mixing their own labour with resources would be excluded. Those who did not involve themselves early in the initial acquisition race would also be excluded since it is possible for unexpected situations of scarcity of natural resources to occur or everything primary to convenience of life may become fixed as property. The more the barn is upheld, the more natural resources are allowed to waste but the more they are fixed as property is the more they are regenerated and more property are available to even those that lack the skill for initial acquisition to possess through inheritance, transfer, charity and transaction.[xix]

Interestingly, we are faced with a situation in which the race for initial acquisition is barely over if not completely over and those who have been excluded have been excluded for all times or might have to fight with others over remnant scarce natural resources. But are they excluded from acquiring property altogether? They can purchase it or it may be given to them as gift. Thus, philosophers, teachers, politicians, factory workers and preachers may acquire property. This would be only possible if enough reserve had been initially converted into property such that sufficient reserves were made available for present and future generations.[xix] The implication of the Lockean Proviso is that the more relevant the theory becomes and more access to natural resources is limited by his sufficiency proviso is  the more initial acquisition is available to only a few with the requisite skills, and the less property is available to a greater number of people. This work opines that abandoning the Lockean sufficiency limitation would produce the effect of having more resources available as potential property to eventual buyers and the future generation. Since the objective of the Proviso was to promote giving others the opportunity to acquiring property, the limitation proviso is self-defeating.

Consider the proviso which requires that enough good be left for others. This sounds reasonable and it is indeed reasonable. But this work argues that there is an implication to it. All acquirers of previously un-owned resources, it can be imagined, would continue to improve what they acquired such that they become more refined, fine-tuned, and more useful to the secondary acquirers through trade, who obviously could not be initial acquirers because they lacked the requisite skill or were naturally incapacitated or belonged to later generation to which the initial acquisition was not available. If more resources were to be acquired contrary to the ‘leaving enough’ proviso of Locke, more and improved resources would be available for the later generation to acquire.  Thus, if more of what are available now were acquired, there would be better and refined resources than what was available before the initial acquisition.

The spoilage condition seems attractive. However, war will always remain inevitable if need be, the possibility of casualties notwithstanding. Sufficient food has to be produced and even huge reserve encouraged, possibility of spoilage notwithstanding. Necessity is the mother of invention. Plato argues that ‘a true creator is necessity, which is the mother of invention’.[xix] Plato means by this that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need. The need to communicate led to the invention of different communication devices. Alfred North Whitehead in Julius A. Singer argues that the basis of invention is science, and science is almost wholly the outgrowth of pleasurable intellectual curiosity.[xix] When the need for something becomes imperative, one is forced to device a way of achieving it. It is the fact of possibility of spoilage that gave rise to preservative technologies like refrigeration systems and other preservative devices. Therefore, if Locke’s spoilage condition was absolutely heeded, science would have remained static, and the necessities that gave rise to inventions would have been unavailable.

4.2 Positive Implications

This notwithstanding, John Locke’s labour condition for property right has a positive implication for the society. It addresses the prevalent social ill of demanding and receiving emoluments without proportionate work output. It condemns the phenomenon as unethical. In our society where workers do not justify their wages by their labour output, John Locke's theory becomes relevant. An instance is Nigeria where some workers occupy offices where they do nothing or little but get fat wages in the end. Some workers sign arrival at work, sit and waste away time while a long cue of clients stand waiting in front of their offices, go for school run, come back and prepare to end the day's work. Some teachers, headmasters and school principals have flourishing business enterprises in major markets around the nation that preoccupy their time which ought to have been employed in efficient schools and classroom management. Some politicians sit in offices where they do little mental activities and are less concerned about the welfare of the constituencies they represent and get fat wages and allowances. They put in little labour and achieve little or nothing but earn an overwhelmingly disproportionate fat wages. Max Weber quoting Benjamin Franklin wrote:

Remember, that time is money, he that can earn ten shillings a day by his labour, and goes  abroad , or sits idle,  one half of that day, though he spends but six pence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or really thrown away , five shillings besides. Remember that money is the prolific generating nature. Money can generate money and its offspring can beget more, and so on…. He that kills a breeding sow destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown destroys all that it might have produced, even to scores of pounds.[xix]

Weber notes that this is not a philosophy of mere greed, but a statement laden with moral language. It is an ethical response to a natural desire to hedonic reward, and a statement of the value of delayed gratification to achieve self-actualization.[xix]

  Proper application of Locke's labour theory in this situation such that wages become directly proportional to work output can become very relevant. If justification for wages were to be based on work output, the world would be a better place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End notes

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, (New York: Everyman’s Liberary, 1978), 132

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 130

[xix] Karl Widerquist, “Lockean Theory of Property: Justification for Unilateral Appropriation”, Public Reason 2(1), (Qatar: Georgetown University press, 2010), 6

[xix] Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, Trans. Walter Miller, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1913), I, 21

[xix] David Conway, “Nozick’s Entitlement Theory of Justice: Three Critics Answered”, Philosophical Notes No. 15, ISSN 0267-7091 ISBN 1 85637 (2005), 2

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, 130 -131

[xix] Caroline Guibet Lafaye, Ethics of Inheritance, Philosophy Today, 2008, 52 (1), 1

[xix] Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia, (New York: Basic Books, 1974), 168

[xix] Patrick Coby, “Contradicting logic and history”, in Interpretation 15:2 (1986), 22

[xix] Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, Land Use Act, Chapter 202, Part 1, 29th March 1978, section 1

[xix] Tobi Niki, Handbook on the Land Use Act, Zaria: ABU Press Ltd., 1989, 82

[xix] John T. Sanders, “Justice and the Initial Acquisition of Property”, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Office, Vol. 10, 180 - 182

[xix] John T. Sanders, Justice and the Initial Acquisition of Property, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Office, 382

[xix] Plato, Republic, Trans. Robin Waterfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993),  II, 369c

[xix] Julius A. Singer, Education: End and Means, (America: University Press of America, 1996), 140

[xix] Max Werber, The protestant Ethics and The Spirit of Capitalism, (London: Penguin Books, 2002), 10

[xix] Max Werber, The protestant Ethics and The Spirit of Capitalism, 9-12

CHAPTER FIVE

EVALUATION, SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

5.1 EVALUATION

This chapter features an evaluation of John Locke’s theory of property ownership. Locke’s intellectual output in justification of property right cannot be overemphasized because it provides the basis for justice and determines what is ethical and legal, and how resources are to be consumed or disposed. Property plays a pivotal role in a person’s life that a stable property rights system produces efficiency gains that benefit everyone. Appropriation is necessary to pursue projects, with which others should not interfere. Fleischacker asserts that the security of life and property are the fundament properties of any legal system.[xix] Frederick Copleston states that Locke is of the view that, though God has not divided the earth and things on it, reason shows that it is in accord with divine will that there should be private property.[xix] Thus, Locke’s project on property right is a positive enterprise.

5.1.1 Criticism of Locke’s Property Right

John Locke makes the state of nature the foundation of the right to property. It is pertinent to recall that Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf who were Locke’s seventh century predecessors in natural law and natural right tradition also started from the community of earth’s natural resources but relied on universal consent to derive private property right. This comes under scathing attack by Sir Robert Filmer who questions the assumption of original community of resources in defending his case for hereditary monarchy.[xix] In disagreement to Filmer, Locke set out his robust intellectual defense of property right. According to J.W. Gough, Locke insists that God has given the world to Adam and his posterity in common,[xix] Drawing from Locke and advancing further, Richard Ashcraft states that by compact and agreement, individuals settle at the property that labour and industry began and once men have settled common consent, positively reached rather than natural right they determine the boundaries of property.[xix] Locke’s intent is to establish and draw boundary of private property ownership in a civil society. Private property is morally legitimate if and only if private appropriation is legitimate. For, unless private appropriation is legitimate, there is no way legitimate private property can come into being.

Adam Smith states that Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is, in reality, instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have property against those who have none at all”.[xix]According to Adam Smith, the property which every man possesses by his own labour is the most sacred and inviolable just as the original foundation of all other property. The patrimony of a poor man has the strength and dexterity of his hands as its source and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks fit without injury to his neighbour is a violation of his most sacred property.[xix]

It is obvious that Locke asserts that what constitutes primary title for property is labour. In the state of nature, a man’s labour is his own and what he mixes with his labour becomes his own.[xix] According to Karl Widerquist, Locke claims that self-ownership implies that a man owns his labour and anything not owned he can mix it with. Second, labour improves resources and accounts for the value of property and thus implies that natural resources have no value until mixed with labour and consumed. Third, Locke is calling for improvement of resources through the pain of labour.[xix] Locke’s emphasis on labour as the solid pedestral for justification of appropriation is contrary to justice in taxation. According to Robert Nozick redistribution violates right. For Nozick, taxation is equivalent to forced labour. The hours spent in doing some work that yields the portion of wages that go into tax is seized from the labourer. He is forced to work during that portion of time, for another purpose and it is unjust. He writes:

Seizing the results of someone’s labour is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing on various activities. If people force you to do certain work or unrewarded work, for a certain period of time they decide what you are to do and what purposes your work is to serve apart from the decisions. This process whereby they take this decision for you makes them a part of you; it gives them a property right in you, just as having such partial control and power of decision, by right, over an animal or inanimate object would be to have a property right in it.[xix]

According to David Conway as stated in chapter two of this this work, Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory of Justice is designed to provide an account of what justice requires concerning property. The theory is organized under three principles: (a) Principle of justice in acquisition. (b) Principle of justice in transfer (c) Principle of justice in rectification. The first of these principles specifies necessary and sufficient conditions for an individual to become the legitimate owner of an object which has not previously been owned by any individual. Amongst the objects to which this principle is meant to be capable of applying are portions of the Earth’s surface, that is, areas of land. The principle of justice in acquisition to which Nozick subscribes may be formulated thus:

An individual A acquires at time T a full property right in an object O which has not previously been the property of any individual if and only if: (i) A mixes his labour with O at time T; and (ii) as a result of O becoming A’s private property, no one else is made any worse off than he or she would have been, O having being left un-appropriated by anyone and had everyone in consequence been free to use O without appropriating it.[xix]

Drawing from Locke and advancing further, Richard Ashcraft states that one moves from a ‘labour-use-familial-consumption stage of existence to a production-for-exchange society’ where men require laws to regulate their property rights. By compact and agreement, individuals settle at the property that labour and industry began.  Once men have settled common consent positively reached rather than natural right then determine the boundaries of property.[xix]

Moreover, it is evident that Locke forgot that someone’s labour can bear fruit of private property title for another man especially, in the opinion of Karl Marx, the masters who determine the means of labour through a system of alienated labour. This being the case one who has acquired such a title has no claim to the labour which has fix in the property as private. Karl Marx, feels that the bourgeoisie and the proletariat smack of inequities. The bourgeoisie own the means of production whereas the proletariat owns the labour which is mixed with resources to yield the dividend of property. Sequel to this system of production and labour, it is only natural that a working class will exist who will be constantly exploited by an overseeing upper class.[xix] This argument justifies ownership of only the value added by the appropriator, not the full resource value of an asset. Thus, Locke was wrong in believing that it is impossible to separate value added, and he seems to have believed that resource value is insignificant. If these beliefs are incorrect, the conclusion that the labourer should own the entire resource is weakened. Not all appropriation theorists accept first labour as the method by which property claims can be established. Some replace first labour with first claim, first use, first possession, or discovery. Some have proposed additional justifications for appropriation. However, they believe that property takes a pivotal role in a person’s life, that a stable property rights system produces efficiency gains that benefit everyone, and that appropriation is necessary to pursue projects, with which others should not interfere.

More so, Locke opines that there is a limit to the much a man may mix with his labour and convert in his property.[xix] He writes that if they perished in the possession of one who has acquired more than he needs, without due use of them such that the fruits rotten or petrifies, one offends the common law of nature, and is liable to punishment because he invades his neighbour’s share, for he has no right, farther than his use calls for any of them to serve his convenience. Robbert Nozick proposed an intellectual defense of Locke. According to David Conway, Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory of Justice is designed to provide an account of what justice requires concerning property.[xix] The second clause of the principle is Nozick’s version of Locke’s proviso that private appropriation is justified only where there is left for others to appropriate enough good of whatever kind of object was appropriated.[xix] G.C. Anil, as remarked in chapter three, reflecting on this, said that many philosophers have pointed out that Locke endorses individuals’ original appropriation of resources in the state of nature provided that two conditions are met: the Lockean proviso of leaving enough and as good for others; and no spoilage condition.[xix]   However, it may seem as evident in sec. 37 that Locke tended to accept that appropriating more that is required for support of one’s life is not absolutely unacceptable since it increases worked out supplies available for support of society.[xix] Supporting Locke’s claim, Richard Ashcraft states that if one appropriates more than one can consume then one offends against the common law of nature for one would be invading one’s neighbor’s share and would be liable to punishment for violating natural law.[xix] However, in Karl Widerquist, Waldron argues that the paradox of plenty cannot justify ownership because a right to subsistence can be fulfilled without conferring exclusive ownership rights to appropriators.[xix] Still in Widerquist, Sreenivasan suggests that the paradox of plenty of natural resources cannot be designed as a justification of unilateral appropriation but as a demonstration of its possibility.[xix]

5.1.2 Locke’s Property Right and Expedition

Many contemporary theorists have used insufficient caution, perhaps also insufficient imagination, in the face of Locke’s colourful tableau of the origins of property. Thus, Locke’s property theory and the related labour theory of value have elicited scathing criticism for what is supposed to be Locke’s influential justification for dispossessing indigenous peoples, first in America and eventually in colonial territories, of their lands and riches respectively by British imperialists and capitalists. If labour increases the value of all things, especially land, then it would follow that valuable commodities like tobacco and sugar must require the labour of many more bodies than England’s few good farmers who after all cannot realistically be spared at home.[xix] Meanwhile, according to Bhikhu Parekh, Locke’s expansive professional, and intellectual investments on property right is also an investment on British colonialism and political economy reflected most conspicuously in his intervention in the European debates over colonial property rights. Building on established pedigree of arguments from natural jurisprudence, Locke’s thesis on property represents the pinnacle of the seventeenth-century English efforts to validate their claims to American territory. This was pitted simultaneously against rival theories of appropriation and presumed American right to their land. Locke’s particular contribution to the global property disputes reverberates most efficiently in justifying the establishment of European property in America.[xix] Copleston also remarks that Locke’s theory of labour as the primary title for property was later incorporated into labour theory of value and later used in such a degree that the author never envisaged. Connecting this to historical facts, thinkers have expressed the view that Locke was expressing the mentality of the Whig Land owners who were his patrons.[xix]

5.2. Summary and Conclusion

In this work, an attempt has been made to explore the Implications of John Locke’s property right. It articulates problem of the study as whether labour can be the only criteria upon which property right can be based. It reviewed literature which featured thoughts of Locke’s predecessors like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Hugo Grotius, Robert Filmer, Kant, Adam Smith, Karl Max and Robert Nozick, and the biography of John Locke. An attempt was also made to articulate Locke’s theory of property right with his thought on the state of nature as background to his theory of private property right.

The project examined the implication of Locke’s property right which hinges on the means of acquisition created by Locke’s ‘mixing of labour with un-owned resources’ condition. An attempt is also made to evaluate Locke’s theory of property right. The position of this work is that in as much as Locke is correct by proposing mixing of labour with resource lying in nature as the condition for property right, it is not the only means of property acquisition. Property can also be acquired through inheritance, transfer, gift and transaction on already acquired piece of property.  But man does not have unlimited right to accumulate property beyond what he can use before it spoils. He must leave enough as good to others. The limitation proviso seems attractive. But it has the implication of limiting possibility of more available and improved resources for future generation. Since the objective of the Proviso was to promote giving others the opportunity to acquire property, the limitation proviso is self-defeating.

This notwithstanding, John Locke’s labour condition for property right has a positive implication. It addresses the prevalent social ill of demanding and receiving emoluments without proportional work output and the ugly demand for bribery along the Nigerian roads. It condemns the phenomenon as unethical and unjustified. If justification for wages were to be based on work output, the world would be a better place.

 

 

End Notes

[xix] Samuel Fleischacker, On Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations: A Philosophical Companion, (Oxford: Princeton University Press: 2004), 301

[xix] Patrick Coby, “Contradicting logic and history”, in Interpretation 15:2 (1986), 22

[xix] G.C Anil, Original Ownership of the Globe and the Right of Relocation: A Theoretical Inquiry into the Validity of International Borders with Respect to People, (New York: Columbia University press, 2006), 2-3

[xix] J. W. Gough, John Locke’s Political Philosophy, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 84

[xix] Richard Ashcraft, “Locke’s Political Philosophy”, in The Cambridge Companion to Locke, ed. Vere Chappell (Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 1994), 37

[xix]  Adam Smith. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, London: Cooke & Hale, 1818, 167

[xix] Adam Smith. The Wealth of Nations. Book I, Chapter X, Part II, 1776.

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, (New York: Everyman’s Liberary, 1978), 130

[xix] Karl Widerquist, “Lockean Theory of Property: Justification for Unilateral Appropriation”, in Public Reason 2:1, (2010), 6

[xix] Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974), 168

[xix] David Conway, “Nozick’s Entitlement Theory of Justice: Three Critics Answered”, in Philosophical Notes No. 15, ISSN 0267-7091 ISBN 1 85637 (2005), 2

[xix] Richard Ashcraft, “Locke’s Political Philosophy”, in The Cambridge Companion to Locke, ed. Vere Chappell (Cambridge: Cambridge Press, 1994), 37

[xix] Patrick Coby, “Contradicting logic and history”, Interpretation, 22

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, (London: Continuum, 2003), 130

[xix] David Conway, “Nozick’s Entitlement Theory of Justice: Three Critics Answered”, Philosophical Notes, No.15, 2

[xix] David Conway, “Nozick’s Entitlement Theory of Justice: Three Critics Answered,” Philosophical Notes No. 15, 2

[xix] G.C Anil, Original Ownership of the Globe and the Right of Relocation: A Theoretical Inquiry into the Validity of International Borders with Respect to People, (New York: Columbia University press), 2

[xix] John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, (1690), http://www.justiceharvard.org/resources/john-locke-second-treatise-of-government-1690/, retrieved September 3, 2014

[xix] Richard Ashcraft, “Locke’s Political Philosophy”, in The Cambridge Companion to Locke, 37

[xix] Karl Widerquist, “Lockan Theory of Property: Justification for Unilateral Appropriation”, in public Reason 2:1, (Qatar: Georgetown Univertsity press, 2010), 7

[xix] Karl Widerquist, Lockan “Theory of Property: Justification for Unilateral Appropriation”, in Public Reason,7

[xix] Paul Corcoran, John Locke on the Possession of Land: Native Title vs. the Principle of Vacuum domicilium, (Adelaide: University of Adelaide: 2002), 3

[xix] Bhikhu Parekh, “Liberalism and Colonialism: A Critique of Locke and Mill,” in The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power, ed. Jan Nederveen Peterse and Bhikhu Parekh (London: Zed Books, 1995), 83.

[xix] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 5, (London: Continuum, 2003), 130

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

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Locke, J. Second Treatise of Government, New York: Everyman’s Liberary, 1978.

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Corcoran, P. John Locke on the Possession of Land: Native Title vs. the Principle of Vacuum domicilium, Adelaide: University of Adelaide, 1984.

Gough, J. W. John Locke’s Political Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974.

Parekh, B. ed. “Liberalism and Colonialism: A Critique of Locke and Mill”, The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power, (London: Zed

  Books, 1995), 75- 92.

Smith, N. “Comparison of Marx and Locke: Views on Government, Property and Labor.” http://www.articlemyriad.com/comparison-marx-locke-views-government-property-labor/, (2011), Retrieved July 9, 2014.

Widerquist, “K., Lockean Theory of Property: Justification for Unilateral Appropriation”, Public Reason 2(1), (Qatar: Georgetown University press, 2010), 3-36.

Willinsky, J. D. “The Properties of Locke’s Common-wealth of Learning, Policy Features in Education”, pkp.sfu.ca/Locke.pdf, (2006), Retrieved  June 7, 2014.

 

 

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Aquinas, T. Summa Theologiae , ed.  Paul E. Sigmund, New York: W.W. Norton, 1954.

Aristotle, Politics, Stephen Everson ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, tr. Thomas Williams, Cambridge: Hackett, 1993.

Augustine, Grace and Free Choice in Answer to the Pelagians IV, Part I, Vol. 26, ed. John E. Rotelle, tr. Roland Teske, New York: New City Press, 1999.

Ayanleye, O.  Gender Rights, Rights, ed. Oliyide, O, Lagos: Throne of Grace Publishers, 2006.

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999

Conway, D. “Nozick’s Entitlement Theory of Justice: Three Critics Answered,” Philosophical Notes No. 15, ISSN 0267-7091 ISBN 1 85637 (2005).

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Curran, E. “Hobbes’s Theory of Rights – A Modern Interest Theory”, The Journal of Ethics, 6:1, (Kent: Academic Repository, 2002), 1-13.

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Lafaye, C. G. “Ethics of Inheritance”, Philosophy Today, 52:1 (2008), 25-35

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Sanders J. T., “Justice and the Initial Acquisition of Property”, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Office, 10, 367 – 399.

Singer, J. A., Education: End and Means, America: University Press of America, 1996.

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Smith, N. “Comparison of Marx and Locke: Views on Government, Property and Labour”. http://www.articlemyriad.com/comparison-marx-locke-views-government-property-labor/, (2011), Retrieved July 9, 2014.

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Verhaegh, M, “Kant and Property Rights”, Journal of Libertarian Studies,  18(3) 2004, www.mises.org, 11–32

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UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA NSUKKA                                                      SCHOOL OF POSTGRADUATE STUDIES

APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF TITLE OF DISSERTATION

NAME OF STUDENT                                             OGBODO, Ignatius Ifeanyichukwu   REGISTRATION NUMBER                                   PG/MA/12/36886                           DEPARTMENT                                                       Philosophy                                                 FACULTY                                                                The Social Sciences                                  DEGREE IN VIEW                                                  M.A                                                      EXPECTED YEAR OF GRADUATION                2014                                                         PROPOSED TITLE OF DESSERTATION             The Implications of John Locke’s Concept of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                              Property Right

 

SYNOPSIS

INTRODUCTION

John Locke defined property right as right acquired through fixing of property by means of mixing personal labour with natural resources. Locke asserts that what constitutes primary title for property is labour. In the state of nature, a man’s labour is his own and what he mixes with his labour becomes his own. He focuses attention on propounding natural right to property. As man has the right and duty to self-preservation, so has he the right to the means required for this purpose. He argues that God, who gave the world to men in common, gave them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience. However, he sets limit to what a man can mix with his labour and convert to his property. For him, the same law of nature that gave man property also sets acquisition limit such that as much as one can use for the advantage of life before it spoils can he with his labour fix as property. Thus, as much land as man tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can use the product of, so much is his property. Whatever is beyond this is not his but others’. Previous studies on Locke’s concept of property right focused attention on analysis, clarification and evaluation of the concept of property. Little or no attention was paid to applying it to specific situations and policies of government, hence, the need for this study. The main objective of this study was to investigate the implications of labour as the only criterion for property right in john Locke. Specific objectives were to: (i) expose Locke’s notion of property right, (ii) investigate the implications of Locke’s position on property right and (iii) highlight the strengths and weaknesses of Locke’s concept of property right.

METHODOLOGY

Historical-descriptive design was used for the study. Data for the study were sourced from books, journals and articles. In handling these materials, the historical, expository, analytical and critical methods were employed.  With the historical method, the subject of enquiry was located within historical perspective. With the expository method an attempt was made to understand the author. In the same vein, the analytical method was used to analyze the subject of enquiry and the critical method was used to subject his views to scrutiny.

RESULTS

John Locke’s notion of property right is that property is acquired through mixing of labour with resources lying in nature and that the limit of acquisition is what can be used before it spoils. The implications of Locke’s position on property right is that if mixing of labour with resources lying in nature is the only criterion for property right then those who acquire theirs through other means such as inheritance, gift, transfer and trade cannot claim any property right in them because they did not mix any personal labour with resources lying in nature to fix them as property. John Locke’s view of labour as condition for property right has its strength. It addresses the prevalent social ill of demanding and receiving emoluments without proportional work output. It condemns this phenomenon as unethical and unjust. If justification for wages were to be based on proportional work output, the world would be a better place. Though, Locke is correct by proposing mixing of labour with resource lying in nature as the condition for property right, it is not the only means of property acquisition. Property can also be acquired through inheritance, transfer, gift and transaction on already acquired piece of property.

.

 

____________              __________            ____________________                   _________    Ogbodo, Ignatius I.       Date                         Rev. Fr. Dr. M. C. Chukwuelobe      Date                            (Student)                                                        (Supervisor)

 

____________               _________              ___________________                    __________       

Dr. E. M. Ome               Date                        Dr. L. O. Amazue                             Date             

(Head of Department)                                   (Faculty Rep. SPGS)

 

                                                                     

 

 

 

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