Études philosophiques, n°3, septembre 2003
Presses Universitaires de France, Paris
This paper proposes a reconstruction of Rousseau’s theory of Property Rights, based on the distinction of three logical and chronological moments of the philosophical history of property drawn by Rousseau : at the origins are the commons, then the foundation of the State’s territories, and last the private and public property rights in the civil state. This theory is organized around the three following essential propositions : property became necessary, due to the evolution of human societies, but has never been moraly legitimate. That’s why the Law, and more precisely, the Republican (e.g. egalitarian) Law has to draw the border between public and individual property rights. Tthe consequence is that individual property right, considere in itself, is absolute and inviolable, but some of th utilities included in this right can be indirectly limited by the Law, in ordre to promote equality in the acces to individual Property. It is doubtfull that we still have something to learn from this theory, but at least this paper shows that we should be aware of the importance of understanding properly the technical meaning of legal concepts in our readings of political philosophy.
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