A Quick Note On Property

There's a sort of visceral objection you see raised now and again to various laws that place limits on what can be done with various kinds of property -- intellectual property laws saying that you can't distribute copies, bylaws disallowing certain kinds of constructions on your property, and so on. The objection basically boils down to the sentiment that "well I paid for it, it belongs to me, I should be allowed to do whatever I want with it." Well, no. When you purchase an item, you're not paying for the physical object itself -- you could get that by stealing it. What you're paying for is a bundle of recognized rights over that object, which is what property is. When you buy the bundle of rights over a gun, the right to wave that gun menacingly at your neighbour is simply not included in the package. One can still argue that a particular right not currently included in the package ought to be so included, but this would need to be done on other grounds.

Share this