David Hume, John Locke and John Rawls on Property

Topics: Property, Political philosophy, Capitalism Pages: 4 (1494 words) Published: October 9, 2007
All the three philosophers, whose work I am going to scrutinize on, have very specific, yet in most cases common views on property. First of all, let me define what the term property means. Property, as I see it, is an object of legal rights that is possessed by an individual or a group of individuals who are directly responsible for this it.

In his work Of Justice, David Hume puts great emphasis on distribution of property in society. Hume believes that only the conception of property gives society such social virtue as justice. Justice, according to Hume, is an important social virtue the sole purpose of which is public utility. To prove his point of view about how property distribution defines the existence of justice in society, David Hume gives several examples. Take an example of utopian society where nature supplies human beings with every convenience in great abundance. It is a state where everyone has anything he/she desires in great amounts. Consequently, there is no any conception of property, because there is no need for it – you can have everything without putting labor on it. Of course, in such a state, Hume argues, every virtue will flourish, except justice. Why make separation of property, if everyone has more than enough; where there is no need to label objects "mine" or "yours", because both of us can have these objects in great amount without any physical or mental exercise? Hume also gives real life examples, of water and air; because of their great amount, no one is trying to control over them, separate them. According to Hume, in such cases justice is no longer exists in the list of virtues. For property, Hume thinks, plays an essential role in making justice useful for people. OK – but you quote yourself from a previous paper

John Locke, in his work Second Treatise of Government, writes about his views on the conception of property. In the chapter which is titled "Of Property" Locke makes significant points about private property. He,...

References: 1. Reading materials of the course "Approaches and Issues in Political Theory"
2. http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Poli/PoliJung.htm
3. http://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_08_3_taylor.pdf
4. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0748-0814(1992)9%3A2%3C347%3AJLJATS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-J
5. http://spectrum.troy.edu/~sltaylor/theory/hume-selection.html
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