Property and Human Flourishing

Property and Human Flourishing

by Gregory S. Alexander


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Property and Human Flourishing by Gregory S. Alexander

Many people assume that what morally justifies private ownership of property is either individual freedom or social welfare, defined in terms of maximizing personal preference-satisfaction. This book offers an alternative way of understanding the moral underpinning of private ownership of property.

Rather than identifying any single moral value, this book argues that human flourishing, understood as morally pluralistic and objective, is property's moral foundation. The book goes on to develop a theory that connects ownership and human flourishing with obligations. Owners have obligations to members of the communities that enabled the owners to live flourishing lives by cultivating in their community members certain capabilities that are essential to leading a well-lived life. These obligations are rooted in the interdependence that exists between owners and their community members, and inherent in the human condition.

Obligations have always been inherent in ownership. Owners are not free to inflict nuisances upon their neighbors, for example, by operating piggeries in residential neighborhoods. The human flourishing theory explains why owners at times have obligations that enable their fellow community members to develop certain necessary capabilities, such as health care and security. This is why, for example, farm owners may be required to allow providers of health care and legal assistance to enter their property to assist employees who are migrant workers.

Moving from the abstract and theoretical to the practical, this book considers implications for a wide variety of property issues of importance both in the literature and in modern society. These include questions such as: When is a government's expropriation of property legitimated for the reason it is for public use? May the owner of a historic or architecturally significant house destroy it without restriction? Do institutions that owned African slaves or otherwise profited from the slave trade owe any obligations to members of the African-American community? What insights may be gained from the human flourishing concept into resolving current housing problems like homelessness, eviction, and mortgage foreclosure?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190860745
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/26/2018
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Gregory S. Alexander is the A. Robert Noll Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. He is a nationally renowned expert in property law, and he has taught at Cornell since 1985. Alexander has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, in Palo Alto, California, and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative and International Law, in Hamburg and Heidelberg, Germany. Professor Alexander is a prolific and recognized writer, the winner of the American Publishers Association's 1997 Best Book of the Year in Law award for his work, Commodity and Propriety. His previous Oxford book is Property and Community (edited with Eduardo M. Peñalver) 2010.

Table of Contents



Part I: Human Flourishing

Chapter One: Flourishing and Welfare

Part II: Ownership

Chapter Two: Ownership and Obligations

Chapter Three: Community and Communities

Part III: Obligations

Chapter Four: Intergenerational Communities

Chapter Five: The Complexities of Land Reparations

Chapter Six: The Right to Exclude

Chapter Seven: Expropriations and Eminent Domain

Chapter Eight: Of Buildings, Art, and Sperm: The Right to Destroy and the Duty to Preserve

Chapter Nine: Race and Property

Chapter Ten: Homelessness and Other Systemic Housing Problems



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