Embodiment and Self-Ownership

Many libertarians believe that self-ownership is a separate matter from ownership of extra-personal property. “No-provisoinfo-icon” libertarians hold that property ownership should be free of any “fair share” constraintsinfo-icon (e.g., the Lockean Proviso), on the grounds that the inability of the very poor to control property leaves their self-ownership intact. By contrast, left-libertarians hold that while no one need compensate others for owning himself, still property owners must compensate others for owning extra-personal property. What would a “self” have to be for these claims to be true? I argue that both of these camps must conceive of the boundaries of the self as including one's body but no part of the extra-personal world. However, other libertarians draw those boundaries differently, so that self-ownership cannot be separated from the right to control extra-personal property after all. In that case, property ownership must be subject to a fair share constraint, but that constraint does not require appropriators to pay compensation. This view, which I call “right libertarianisminfo-icon,” differs importantly from the other types primarily in its conception of the self, which I argue is independently more plausible.

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Published in: Social Philosophy and Policy
2010 27 Pages 135-67

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